Erdogan’s government to discuss Sweden’s NATO ratification with nationalist ally, official says

Erdogan’s government to discuss Sweden’s NATO ratification with nationalist ally, official says

President Tayyip Erdogan’s government will hold talks with its nationalist parliamentary ally on ratifying Sweden’s NATO accession, a senior official said on Wednesday, after the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) appeared to a take negative view on the issue.

MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said on Tuesday that Sweden had failed to distance itself from terrorism, but added that Erdogan would make the final call about Sweden’s membership bid.

Bahceli’s comments echoed previous accusations by Erdogan, who said he expected Stockholm to do more against people Ankara considers terrorists, before unexpectedly agreeing to forward Sweden’s NATO accession bid to parliament on Monday.

Erdogan’s AK Party relies on the MHP for a parliamentary majority, which is required to push through the ratification. Other parties in parliament have not said whether they would support the move.

“There will be contacts with the MHP either by the president or by high levels of the government,” a senior government official told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Bahceli’s comments are not fully compatible with the steps that have been taken so far. The behind-the-scenes developments and the reasoning for the decision that was taken will be relayed to Bahceli and other MHP executives,” the person said.

Separately, Turkey’s parliament is due to close at the end of this week and will not re-convene until October. An immediate ratification would require Erdogan to request the extension of the parliament’s closing date.

Ankara had accused Sweden of doing too little against people Turkey sees as terrorists, mainly members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States.

A statement issued by Turkey and Sweden on Monday said Sweden had reiterated that it would not provide support to the Kurdish groups and would actively support efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s EU accession process.

The senior official said the ratification would require some time, adding that Ankara still expected some steps from Stockholm regarding the PKK and the group Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 failed coup.

“We need to see the steps that Sweden will take. We want to see Sweden implement steps that shows it is against terrorism and on our side,” the person said.

Ankara also expected some “implicit” economic restrictions, including embargoes and restrictions of arms trade, by Sweden as well as other European Union and NATO countries to be lifted, the official said. [Reuters]

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