Erdogan: Sweden, Finland must extradite 130 ‘terrorists’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony to mark an increase in capacity at a natural gas storage facility in Silivri near Istanbul, Türkiye, Dec 16, 2022. (UMIT BEKTAS / REUTERS)

ANKARA — Sweden and Finland must deport or extradite up to 130 "terrorists" to Türkiye before the Turkish parliament will approve their bids to join NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

The two Nordic states applied last year to join NATO following the Ukraine conflict but all 30 member states must approve their bids.

Sweden and Finland signed a three-way agreement with Türkiye in June 2022 aimed at overcoming Turkey's objections

Türkiye has said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt.

READ MORE: Is Turkey's veto in NATO just a bargain?

"We said look, so if you don't hand over your terrorists to us, we can't pass it (approval of the NATO application) through the parliament anyway," Erdogan said in comments late on Sunday, referring to a joint press conference he held with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson last November.

"For this to pass the parliament, first of all you have to hand more than 100, around 130 of these terrorists to us," Erdogan said.

Sweden and Finland signed a three-way agreement with Türkiye in June 2022 aimed at overcoming Türkiye's objections.

READ MORE: Turkey: Concerns not eased on Finland and Sweden's NATO bid

As part of that accord, the two Nordic countries pledged to address Türkiye's "pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly", taking into account Turkish intelligence and abiding by all European law.

Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Saturday that time was running out for Türkiye's parliament to ratify the bids before presidential and parliamentary elections expected in May.

On Monday Sweden's Kristersson said that his country was in a "good position" to secure Türkiye's ratification of its NATO bid.