Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Sweden’s parliament adopted a constitutional amendment on Wednesday that will allow for tougher anti-terrorism laws, a key requirement for Turkey to approve Stockholm’s bid for NATO membership.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policy of non-alignment and applied to join the military alliance.

But Turkey has blocked Sweden and Finland’s applications for NATO membership, accusing Stockholm in particular of being a haven for “terrorists”.

The amendment, which was passed by 278 votes in Sweden’s 349-seat parliament, allows for the introduction of new laws to “restrict freedom of association when it comes to associations engaged in or supporting terrorism”.

According to the parliament’s standing committee on constitutional affairs, which recommended that MPs approve the proposal, it will allow for “broader criminalization of participation in a terrorist organization or the banning of a terrorist organization”.

Experts said the new law would make it easier to prosecute members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who are blacklisted by Ankara and most of its Western allies.

The change takes effect on January 1.

During a visit to Ankara last week, new Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson described the constitutional amendment as a “big step”.

“Sweden will take big steps by the end of the year and early next year that will give Swedish legal authorities more muscle in the fight against terrorism,” he said at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In Sweden, a constitutional amendment must be approved by two separate parliaments, with general elections held between them.

The first vote took place under Sweden’s previous left-wing government in April, ahead of Sweden’s official decision to apply for NATO membership in mid-May.

Only the Left in the country expressed opposition to the change.