Turkey is reportedly threatening to delay the ratification of Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol if it does not extradite 15 Turkish nationals Ankara accuses of taking part in a failed coup in 2016, Kathimerini reports.
According to the newspaper, Ankara insists that the 15 Turkish nationals are members of a network run by self-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who it says masterminded the coup attempt.
Following the signing of the Prespes agreement with Greece in June last year, NATO member-states’ permanent representatives signed a protocol on the accession of Macedonia to the alliance in February this year. But Ankara’s threat could now stall Macedonia’s bid to join the North Atlantic alliance. The issue was also raised by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar during his visit to Skopje on April 3. During a recent visit to neighboring Kosovo Akar made extradition requests for other Turkish nationals also accused of being Gulenists, the Greek newspaper said.
However, in Macedonia, the US Embassy has the final word.
So far, Macedonia’s shadowy Governor Philip Reeker has instructed Zoran Zaev to rebuff Ankara’s demands. In addition Brussels has also showed support for the move.