Oscar Stenstrom says rising incidents of gang violence in Sweden are linked to PKK terror group.
Sweden has a larger share of PKK terror group financing as compared to Finland, Stockholm's chief NATO negotiator said.
Speaking to the state-owned Sveriges Radio, Oscar Stenstrom said: "Unlike Finland, we have a larger share of funding for the PKK from Sweden."
Both countries are bidding to join the NATO alliance, but are faced with opposition from Türkiye due to their ties and tolerance toward the PKK terrorist organisation and its offshoots.
Stenstrom further said he acknowledges that the PKK is involved with the drug market, which is considered to be one of the main funding channels of the terrorist organisation.
Sweden is currently experiencing the most violent gang-related violence with over 300 shootings and bombings recorded in 2022, leaving 63 people dead. Stenstrom said there is a direct correlation between the gang violence and the PKK terror group.
"These people are often multitaskers in their field. Terrorist financing and serious crime are linked – yes. It is far from explaining everything, but extortion, financing weapons and drugs exist in this field," he said.
Under a trilateral memorandum signed in June by Sweden, Finland and Türkiye during a NATO summit held in Madrid, the two Nordic states pledged to distance itself from terror groups and to take concrete actions against them.
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Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun:— TRT World (@trtworld) January 12, 2023
- Strongly condemns targeting of Türkiye, its president by members of PKK terror group in Sweden
- Sweden must keep promises made in Madrid to join NATO, futile to expect Türkiye to make concessions pic.twitter.com/ZJ4ikbOfpn
'Frozen' NATO bid
The Swedish NATO process has come to a standstill after Swedish authorities enabled a far-right political figure to burn a copy of Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm, while for Finland it appears to be a straight path forward.
Stenstrom said the NATO accession talks with Türkiye are currently frozen. "It's not profitable to hold talks right now. We each get to work somewhere and then we'll see how long this pause lasts," he told the radio host.
Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has recently suggested that the country may decouple and consider joining NATO without Sweden if Türkiye continues to block their joint bid to enter the alliance.
In a recent interview with Anadolu, Stenstrom said the promises made by the Nordic countries were a top priority for the Swedish government. "We're working on all, we will fulfil the total agreement."
In response to a question on Sweden's support to the PKK terror group, Stenstrom said this was no longer the case. "Yes, we have changed. And we have realised better the security concerns of Türkiye. This will also improve the security of Sweden.
"Sweden should and will never be a safe haven for any terrorist, and that's why we're also increasing our cooperation between our security services. We're dedicating more funds to these services and defence. We will be happy to cooperate together in NATO."
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