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NATO Expansion: Sweden Accommodates Turkish Demands

During a press conference in Stockholm on Monday, June 12th, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained that Sweden is making changes to its terrorism laws. These changes, which will go into effect on July 1st, partly address objections that the Turkish government has to the Swedish application for NATO membership.

One of the changes is an extension of the maximum sentence for “collaboration with a terrorist organization.” This crime, which was recently added to the Swedish anti-terror laws, now carries a maximum penalty of seven years, as opposed to six.

The new law also changes the scope of “terrorism” from being enumerated within a specific list of crimes to any crime “and punishable attempts” at committing a crime. The terrorism upgrade can be used for any crime aimed at “seriously harming a country” or non-governmental organization. 

The law also gives Swedish courts jurisdiction over suspected acts of terrorism regardless of which country they were committed in.

So far, the Turkish government has not officially commented on the modifications to the Swedish terrorism law. The Turkish reaction is essential to the progress of the NATO applications of both Sweden and Finland. During a June 12th meeting in Helsinki with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Secretary General Stoltenberg made clear that the Turkish demands on the two Nordic countries are legitimate. reports:

“These are legitimate concerns, this is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports,” Stoltenberg told reporters … “We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkiye,” Stoltenberg said, using the Turkish pronunciation of the country’s name, as preferred by the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, Stoltenberg and President Niinistö discussed

the situation that has occurred after Turkey made special demands on Finland and Sweden. Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden for supporting Kurdish organizations that Turkey considers to be terrorist groups.

While Sweden accommodates some Turkish demands with modifications to its terrorism laws, it remains unclear how Finland will react. One of the demands from Ankara concerns the extradition of individuals that Turkey labels as terrorists. An analysis by Finnish news agency STT suggests that Finland is legally prohibited from extraditing these individuals.

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Sven R. Larson is a political economist and author. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Roskilde University, Denmark. Originally from Sweden, he lives in America where for the past 16 years he has worked in politics and public policy. He has written several books, including Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024.