No country can be fully protected from terrorism alone, says Fahrettin Altun, highlights memorandum signing does not mean NATO membership for Sweden
The international community has to be one against terrorism because one country cannot protect itself from terrorism all by its own, Turkish communications director said in an interview with a Swedish journal.
In an written interview with the Swedish journal Expressen, Fahrettin Altun evaluated the trilateral memorandum signed by Türkiye, Sweden and Finland during NATO’s Madrid Summit.
“It would be wrong to present the memorandum, which was signed in Madrid, as a NATO membership in itself. It was about conveying an invitation. The reason why we agreed was that Sweden undertook in writing to take the necessary measures against terrorism,” Altun said.
“The NATO process did not come to a conclusion with the signature. Türkiye will assess whether Sweden fulfills its commitments. The assessment here will be conducted by Türkiye. Our expectation is clear. Sweden needs to persuade us that it recognizes Türkiye’s solid security concerns,” he added.
“The international community must be in total solidarity on terrorism. No country can be fully protected from terrorism alone,” Altun said.
About the extradition of the terror members in the country, the communications director emphasized that Ankara demands terror members as they have links with the PKK, YPG and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, UK, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
The YPG is the PKK terror group’s Syrian offshoot.
FETO orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Türkiye, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions; particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
“What matters at this point is whether these persons will be given to Türkiye or not by complying with both bilateral and international agreements in the light of clear proofs,” he underlined.
NATO membership process is not over with just the latest signatures, Altun mentioned, pointing out that Ankara will be monitoring if Sweden will keep all its promises.
“For 70 years, we have been an ally and the second biggest army of the Alliance that Sweden wants to be a part of,” Altun stressed, adding that Türkiye’s expectations are clear, and Sweden has to convince the country that it understands Ankara’s concerns about the issue.
“We are also underscoring that it is against the law of the instrument to have any kind of arms embargo among NATO members,” he stated.
Altun pointed out that Türkiye, which traditionally supported the expansion of NATO, also has no categorical objection to Sweden’s participation.
Ankara assessed that some of Sweden’s policies and practices were to the detriment of both Türkiye, a NATO member, and NATO as a whole, and therefore demanded some changes, he touched on.
“As a result, the Swedish government has committed that it will meet our justified demands. In other words, Türkiye’s position has remained the same,” he noted.
It is remarkable that Türkiye has not given up any of its expectations during the negotiations, he stressed, adding: “Sweden’s signature on an agreement that describes PKK, YPG and FETO as terrorist organizations is important for terror victims more than anything.”
Türkiye has come a long way about fight against terrorism, the communications director underscored, noting that the country had started to handle terror elements outside of its borders with a new counter-terror understanding as attacks by PKK and Daesh/ISIS terrorist organizations got more intense between 2015 and 2016.
Altun also noted that Türkiye has launched a serious fight against the financing of terrorism and the militant takeover of organizations, emphasizing that there has been a significant reduction in terrorist acts on Turkish territory thanks to these steps.
Underlining that the international community should be in full solidarity on the issue of terrorism, Altun adding that no country can be fully protected from terrorism alone.
Ankara cares about the removal of terror members from places where they have taken refuge under various pretexts, he stressed.
Altun said that the Swedish government has explained how it can contribute if it joins NATO, and that it is critical for NATO to adapt to strong and new threats in terms of peace and stability.
For this reason, he stated that it is important whether the countries that are on the agenda for membership in the enlargement issue share the goals and values of NATO.
Noting that the fight against terrorism has been adopted by the entire Turkish society, Altun said that the fight against terrorism is a state policy.
Representatives from NATO’s 30 member states signed accession protocols for Finland and Sweden, after formally inviting them to the military alliance at the historic summit in Madrid last week.
Canada has become the first country to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids, the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Tuesday.
The two countries shunned neutrality and applied to join NATO in May, a decision spurred on by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
Ahead of the summit, Ankara and the two Scandinavian countries signed the memorandum after four-way talks, including NATO in Madrid.
The agreement allows the two Nordic countries to become NATO members but conditioned them to take steps on Türkiye’s terrorism concerns and lift an arms embargo on Ankara.
Following the trilateral deal, NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the 30-member military alliance.