The Swedish authorities granted permission to demonstrate this Saturday to an anti-Turkish protest that took place in Stockholm in favor of the Kurds and against the entry of the Scandinavian country into NATO. An ultra-rightist also burned the Koran at the Turkish embassy, which prompted rejection from Ankara, which canceled a visit by the Swedish Defense Minister. A new diplomatic incident in the midst of the Ottoman blockade in the process of Swedish and Finnish accession to the Atlantic Alliance.
This Saturday there were demonstrations in Stockholm, endorsed by the Government, against Turkish policy, Sweden’s accession to NATO and in favor of the Kurdish minority, one of the main stumbling blocks in the Scandinavian country’s entry process into the Atlantic Alliance for the Turkey’s reluctance.
Although protected under the umbrella of freedom of expression, for Turkey the protests are a diplomatic obstacle between the two countries, just at a time when the Ottoman nation is blocking access to both Sweden and Finland to NATO.
In addition, tensions escalated on Saturday afternoon when a Swedish-Danish far-right leader, Rasmus Paludan, burned a copy of the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in the Swedish capital, an act that the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government described as a hate crime. that demonstrates “racism” and “Islamophobia” on European soil.
“This despicable act is yet another example of the alarming level that Islamophobia and racist and discriminatory movements have reached in Europe,” the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a condemnation statement.
“It is unacceptable to allow this act against Islam, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of ‘free speech,'” the note added.
Before such an act took place, the Turkish authorities had tried to prevent the demonstrations by putting pressure on the Scandinavian Executive, something that ultimately did not happen. After the events of Saturday afternoon, from Ankara they ask Stockholm to take condemnatory measures against the perpetrators for the crime of Islamophobia and also urge “all countries and international organizations” to confront it.
For his part, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Tobias Billstrom, described the incident as “abominable”.
Tensions have increased in recent days.
Rasmus Paludan, an ultra-rightist who became popular on social networks a few years ago in Denmark for burning copies of the Koran in popular neighborhoods filled with migrants, broadcast his feat on streaming while he protected himself in his freedom of expression and attacked Erdogan, the Swedish immigration policy and even came to take out a satirical drawing on the sexuality of Muhammad.
In the heat of these events, which were already scheduled, before the demonstration was held, Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador to the country on Friday to make the government’s conduct ugly and, in addition, this same Saturday it announced that a visit scheduled for the next week from the Swedish defense minister to Turkey, scheduled to discuss the northern European nation’s entry into NATO.
“At this point, the visit of Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson to Turkey on January 27 is meaningless. So we have canceled the visit,” his Turkish counterpart said in a statement.
For his part, Jonson commented that he had met with his peer on Friday during the summit of senior Defense commanders in Germany and that it had been decided there to cancel the visit.
“Our relations with Turkey are very important for Sweden, and we hope to continue the dialogue on common security and defense issues at a later date,” he argued.
A diplomatic pulse
This escalation of tension occurs at a delicate moment in relations between the two countries.
Since Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in mid-2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this has not been consummated due to Turkey’s refusal (unanimity of the 30 member countries is needed), which maintains that both countries are refuges of groups that the Ottoman nation considers “terrorists”.
Among them are Kurdish militants or a group blamed for an alleged coup attempt a few years ago.
However, both countries signed a pact with Turkey last year in order to put aside the differences to conclude the accession process.
And although Sweden claims to have complied with its duties, Turkey is not giving in for the moment, so the latest events could mean a new stick in the wheels in the Nordic country’s desire to enter the Atlantic Alliance.
With EFE and Reuters