Director of Communications Altun speaks to Swedish newspaper Expressen

Director of Communications Altun speaks to Swedish newspaper Expressen

Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun noted the following regarding the trilateral memorandum signed by Türkiye, Sweden and Finland: "The NATO process did not come to a conclusion with the signature. Türkiye will assess whether Sweden fulfils the commitments. Let's be clear, we have been a member of the alliance for 70 years and have the second-largest army in the alliance, which Sweden wants to join today. The assessment here will be conducted by Türkiye."

Presidency's Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun answered the questions of Swedish newspaper Expressen regarding the trilateral memorandum signed between Türkiye, Sweden and Finland at the NATO Summit in Madrid.

Noting that the memorandum signed in Madrid should not be regarded as NATO membership, Director of Communications Altun stated that it was an invitation that was in question, and Türkiye had given its approval for the invitation to be made.

Pointing out that the Swedish government made a written commitment to take the required steps in the fight against terrorism, Director of Communications Altun said, "We had made it clear from the beginning of the process that we would assess Sweden's membership independently. Türkiye, as a sovereign country, made a move in exchange for these commitments. In other words, Sweden pledged to comply with Türkiye's demands." 

When asked if Türkiye has provided Sweden with the names of those it deems terrorists, Director of Communications Altun stressed that the reported people had affiliations to the PKK, YPG, or FETO, all of which Sweden recognises in the memorandum as terrorist organisations, and that they thus not only constitute a threat to Türkiye but also to the Swedish people and Sweden's interests.

Director of Communications Altun noted that it is crucial to determine if these persons would be extradited in accordance with bilateral and international agreements and based on solid evidence.

"The assessment will be conducted by Türkiye"

Saying, "The NATO process did not come to a conclusion with the signature", Director of Communications Altun stated:

"Türkiye will assess whether Sweden fulfils its commitments. Let's be clear, we have been a member of the alliance for 70 years and have the second-largest army in the alliance, which Sweden wants to join today. The assessment here will be conducted by Türkiye. Our expectation is crystal clear. Sweden must persuade us that it recognises Türkiye's specific security concerns. We have specific expectations in mind when fighting terrorism. We further stress that any arms embargo imposed between NATO members goes against the grain."

Noting that Türkiye, which has historically supported NATO enlargement, has no categorical objections to Sweden's membership either, Director of Communications Altun said that they, on the other hand, considered some of Sweden's policies harmful to NATO as a whole as well as to Türkiye, a NATO member, and therefore requested some adjustments.

Noting that they say the same things in both open talks and private meetings, Director of Communications Altun said, "After all, the Swedish government has pledged to fulfil these legitimate demands. In other words, Türkiye's position has remained the same."

"Sweden's NATO membership hinges on fulfilling its written commitments"

When asked about Sweden's potential membership in NATO, Director of Communications Altun stressed that although the trilateral memorandum approved the invitation to Sweden, maintaining the commitments would be crucial in this process.

Director of Communications Altun stated that Sweden's NATO membership hinges on fulfilling its written commitments.

Upon the question, "Is this agreement's acceptance by Sweden a victory for Türkiye and President Erdoğan?", Director of Communications Altun said:

"When we consider it from a diplomatic perspective, it is surely important how Türkiye made no concessions on its legitimate demands throughout the process; however, the trilateral memorandum is primarily beneficial for the victims of terrorism to know that justice is delivered. Some of the individuals Sweden has protected so far as political refugees have caused severe suffering in Türkiye and elsewhere. Only six years ago, 251 innocent people lost their lives in the coup attempt in Türkiye. PKK terrorism, on the other hand, has a 40-year-old history. During this time, there were suicide attacks and murders of teachers, doctors, and even babies. Sweden's signing of an agreement that defines PKK, YPG and FETO as terrorist organisations is, above all, important for the victims of terrorism."

"The international community must be in total solidarity against terrorism"

Noting that Türkiye has made significant progress in the fight against terrorism in recent years, Director of Communications Altun stated that, particularly following the PKK and DAESH attacks in 2015-2016, Türkiye has adopted a new concept of counter-terrorism and begun to confront the terrorism threat beyond its borders.

Director of Communications Altun further noted that Türkiye has initiated a major fight against terrorism financing and militant recruitment by organisations and that as a result of these efforts, there has been a significant decline in terrorist activities on Turkish territory.

Underscoring the importance of the international community standing in total solidarity against terrorism, Director of Communications Altun stated that no country could be fully protected from terrorism alone, and hence they attached importance to the extradition of terrorist organisation members from places where they seek refuge behind fabricated justifications.

Director of Communications Altun said that NATO's adaptability to strong and new threats was of critical importance for peace and stability, noting that the Swedish government described how Sweden could contribute if it joined NATO.

In this vein, Director of Communications Altun stressed the importance of determining whether the countries on the enlargement agenda reflect NATO's objectives and values.

Director of Communications Altun highlighted that the fight against terrorism is embraced by the entire society and is also a government policy in Türkiye. 

Director of Communications Altun went on to say that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in line with his statesmanship, continues to defend Türkiye's interests at all times and on all platforms.