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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s centre-right government will fulfill all the conditions of a deal with Turkey to join NATO and focus its foreign relations on its immediate neighborhood while abandoning the administration’s “feminist foreign policy” previous year, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said the new government shares Turkey’s concerns about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.

“There will be no nonsense from the Swedish government when it comes to the PKK,” Billstrom told The Associated Press in an interview.

“We fully support a policy which means that terrorist organizations are not allowed to operate on Swedish territory.”

Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland’s historic bid to join NATO, fearing that the two countries – Sweden in particular – have become a haven for members of the PKK and affiliated groups.

As part of a memorandum of understanding signed by Sweden’s previous leftist government at a NATO summit in June, Sweden and Finland pledged not to support Kurdish groups in Syria which, according to Turkey, are affiliated.
with the PKK and to lift the arms embargoes imposed on Turkey after its incursion into northern Syria in 2019.

They also agreed to “deal with pending deportation or extradition requests for suspected terrorists”, which proved more complicated due to the broad definition of terrorism in Turkey, where counter-terrorism laws have been used to suppress opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Everything that is written in the trilateral memorandum, and that has been agreed to by all three parties, must be fulfilled, must be fulfilled by all three parties,” Billstrom said, adding that “everything must also be done in a legally binding manner. safe.

The PKK has been waging an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and the conflict has since resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Paul Levin, director of the Institute of Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, said the new government might have an advantage over the previous social-democratic government in its relations with Turkey, as it does not have the same links with the Kurdish diaspora in Sweden.

However, the independence of authorities and courts in Sweden “set limits to what is possible, as does international law,” Levin said.

Hungary and Turkey are the only NATO countries yet to ratify the membership of Sweden and Finland, traditionally non-aligned countries that rushed to apply for membership after the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia in February.

Like most European countries, Sweden clearly sided with Ukraine in the war, supplying its armed forces with anti-tank weapons, assault rifles and anti-ship missiles.

Ukraine also asked Sweden to supply the Archer artillery system and the RBS-70 man-portable air defense system. Billstrom said the new government has yet to decide on those demands.

“We are ready to try to help the Ukrainian government as much as possible in its heroic fight against Russian forces,” Billstrom said.

“We will see when we have made the appropriate assessments on these matters.”

A former migration minister, Billstrom is a prominent member of the conservative Moderate Party, which formed a coalition government last week with the centre-right Liberals and Christian Democrats.

The new government relies on the support of Sweden’s anti-immigration Democrats with whom it has developed a common political platform that includes tough restrictions on immigration and a crackdown on organized crime.

Billstrom also promised a change in Sweden’s foreign relations, with a focus on northern Europe.

Traditionally, Sweden has sought to project itself internationally as a “humanitarian superpower” with relatively generous support for developing countries around the world and a strong commitment to the United Nations.

“That doesn’t mean we won’t care about the rest of the world, far from it,” Billstrom said, noting that he had made a speech earlier at the United Nations Day celebration, which marks the 1945 UN anniversary. charter.

“But in terms of these recalibrations that we’re aiming for, it’s true that there will be a shift in focus,” he said. “And the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries and the EU will be the three legs on which we will base this recalibration.”

In addition, the new government will abandon the “feminist foreign policy” that the previous government introduced in 2014. The label has since been used by other countries, including Canada, France, Spain and Germany.

“We believe that equal rights for men and women are important, but using the term ‘feminist foreign policy’ means that you sometimes distract from what is really important. You put more emphasis on the label than the actual content,” Billstrom said.

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