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Türkiye says it expects Sweden to prevent terrorist fundraising, recruitment, propaganda

"We welcome positive steps taken by Sweden but it still falls short," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with senior EU and Swedish officials following an international donors' conference to support the victims of last month's earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published March 20,2023

Türkiye expects Sweden to prevent fundraising, recruitment, and propaganda by terrorist groups on its soil, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday.

"We welcome positive steps taken by Sweden but it still falls short," Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference with senior EU and Swedish officials following an international donors' conference to support the victims of last month's earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.

Responding to a question on Sweden's NATO bid, Cavusoglu said Türkiye had no issues with Finland's accession but that both NATO and the Nordic countries wanted to treat Sweden and Finland equally.

"We have demonstrated our goodwill, now the parliament has the power to ratify their membership," Cavusoglu told reporters alongside EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and Sweden's Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Johan Forssell.

He also reiterated that Türkiye supports NATO's open door policy.

Abandoning decades of military non-alignment, Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO last May.

However, Türkiye, a longstanding NATO member, asked the two Nordic states to take concrete action against terror groups like the PKK and FETO.

In June, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum with Türkiye to address Ankara's security concerns, and senior diplomats and officials from the three countries have held various meetings since then to discuss the implementation of the trilateral agreement.

Meanwhile, Sweden passed an anti-terror law last November, hoping that Ankara would approve Stockholm's bid to join the NATO alliance. The new law, which will go into force on June 1, will allow Swedish authorities to prosecute individuals who support terrorist organizations.

Türkiye on Friday said it would approve the process of Finland's NATO membership protocol in its parliament.


On the donor's conference, Cavusoglu said Türkiye had been at the forefront of helping countries in need and was grateful to see the same kind of solidarity after the earthquakes.

For his part, EU Commissioner Varhelyi said the fundraiser would provide "significant help" to Turkish partners and allies as they concentrate their efforts on reconstruction.

He said that more than half of the $7.5 billion in funding that the event gathered was raised by European institutions and EU member states.

"This is also a very strong political commitment and very strong emotional commitment. Also, both with the country and with its people that you can always count on Europe and not only in trouble," Varhelyi added.

Sweden's Minister Johan Forssell also noted that the Swedish EU Council presidency had reacted immediately when the earthquakes hit Türkiye on Feb. 6, to help alleviate the plight of victims.

"Today we have seen the result of our common initiative," he added.


On Türkiye's recent "engagement" with the Syrian regime, Cavusoglu said these efforts aimed to stabilize the war-torn country and did not amount to "normalization."

"The aim of these efforts is to end the chaos, instability, and internal conflicts in Syria, which has lasted for more than 11 years, permanently," said the Turkish foreign minister.

Noting that there had been many platforms and initiatives launched on Syria since the war began in 2011, Cavusoglu said the only surviving mechanism was the Astana format.

"The refugees can't return (to Syria). The terrorist organization PKK/YPG is strengthening its position every day to divide the country due unfortunately to the support given them by some of our allies, especially the US," he added.

Emphasizing that people living in the country continued to suffer under difficult circumstances, Cavusoglu said a many of the refugees currently in Türkiye wanted to return on their own accord, but that conditions were not suitable.

Elections in Syria must be carried out within the framework of UN Security Council resolution 2254, he said, adding: "Only with a political solution can the unity of the country be established."

Reiterating Türkiye's support for Syria's territorial integrity, Cavusoglu said the international community needed to make the distinction between reconstruction and aid to local residents and those who will return.

"We know that there can be no reconstruction without lasting peace. Not only us, but Arab countries are also now engaged and negotiating so migrants can return to Syria.

"In this way, the international community should at least engage with the regime, especially UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees), through international organizations," he said.

More than 50,000 people were killed in powerful earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye on Feb. 6.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in fewer than 10 hours.