Ankara summoned Sweden’s top diplomat in the country to vent chagrin over a Kurdish group’s protest in Gothenburg
The top Swedish diplomat in Ankara has reportedly been called on the carpet to hear out the Turkish government’s “strong reaction” to a Kurdish group’s protest in Gothenburg, raising tensions between the countries at a time when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to veto Sweden’s accession to NATO.
Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Sweden’s interim chief of mission in Ankara to voice its displeasure over this week’s Kurdish protest, which it considered to be “terrorist propaganda,” according to reports by Reuters and multiple Turkish media outlets. The reports cited unidentified diplomatic sources.
The latest flareup in Stockholm’s relationship with Turkey comes at a time when Erdogan has threatened to block approval for Sweden and Finland to join NATO on concern that the Nordic countries are hosting Kurdish militants. Last month in Madrid, the countries signed a tripartite memorandum under which Sweden and Finland pledged to end their embargo on arms sales to Turkey and crack down on individuals and groups that Ankara has branded terrorists.
“In this context, our expectations for identifying the perpetrators of the action, taking the necessary legal and judicial measures and taking concrete steps in light of the commitments recorded in the tripartite memorandum were emphasized,” the diplomatic officials said of the Gothenburg protest. The demonstration involved supporters of the PKK and other Kurdish groups that Turkey has designated as terrorist organizations.
Erdogan warned this week that Turkey may still “freeze” the NATO applications of Sweden and Finland if they don’t fulfill conditions of the Madrid agreement. “Sweden, in particular, does not have a good image on this issue,” he said.
The Gothenburg protest occurred on Wednesday, with pictures and videos posted on social media showing demonstrators carrying pro-Kurdish banners, including PKK flags. The group’s flags were also reportedly hoisted on several poles in the center of the city, according to Turrkish media reports, while some of the marchers carried a banner saying, “We are all PKK.”