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Erdogan does not back down/ Gives 'ok' to Finland, blocks Sweden's path to NATO membership
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Ankara can agree to Finland joining NATO, but not Sweden. He criticized Sweden's refusal to extradite dozens of people suspected of links to Kurdish militant groups and other critics of his government.
"If you absolutely want to join NATO, you will bring these terrorists back to us," Erdogan said.
The statement comes days after Turkey suspended talks to accept the two Nordic countries as members. The decision was prompted by a series of protests in Stockholm, including one during which a copy of the Koran was burned.
Swedish officials have condemned the protests but defended the country's free speech laws. In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year, ending decades of military non-commitment.
Their application must be unanimously approved by all current NATO members, but Turkey and Hungary have failed to ratify their requests.
In his speech, Erdogan said Turkey could now "give a different answer regarding Finland", adding that "Sweden will be shocked".
"We gave Sweden a list of 120 people and told them to extradite those terrorists to their country," Erdogan said.
Sweden has a larger Kurdish diaspora than Finland, and its talks with Ankara on NATO membership have been heated.
Turkey has called on Sweden to distance itself from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.
In response, Sweden passed a constitutional amendment allowing it to create tougher anti-terror laws demanded by Turkey.
Both Sweden and Finland have also lifted bans on the sale of military equipment to Turkey, imposed after Ankara's military intervention in Syria in 2019.
But Turkey has sharply criticized Sweden over recent protests in Stockholm, including one by a Kurdish support group that hung an effigy of Mr Erdogan from a lamp post.
Earlier this month, Erdogan said Turkish elections had been postponed by a month to May 14.