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Home World News Washington Post World News Turkey condemns Swedish protests, cancels ministerial meeting

Turkey condemns Swedish protests, cancels ministerial meeting

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ISTANBUL – Turkey on Saturday canceled a planned visit by the Swedish defense minister in response to the Nordic country issuing permits for anti-Turkish protests.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the planned visit of his Swedish counterpart Pål Jonson on January 27 has been canceled. He said the meeting no longer had “any importance or point” because Sweden continued to allow “disgusting” demonstrations against Turkey.

Jonsson said in a Twitter post that he met Akar on Friday at a meeting of defense ministers in Ramstein, Germany, where they “agreed to postpone the meeting in Ankara.”

“Relations with Turkey are very important to Sweden and we look forward to continuing dialogue on common security and defense issues at a later date,” he wrote.

Sweden is bracing for several demonstrations this weekend. A far-right activist from Denmark has been given permission by police to protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, where he plans to burn the Quran, Islam’s holy book. Meanwhile, both pro-Turkish and pro-Kurdish groups are planning demonstrations in the Swedish capital.

In Sweden, freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution and gives people extensive rights to express their views publicly, although incitement to violence or hate speech is not allowed. Protesters must apply to the police for a permit for a public gathering. The police can only refuse such permits on exceptional grounds, such as risks to public safety.

Turkish officials took to Twitter on Saturday to condemn anti-Islam activist Rasmus Paludan’s plans to burn the Quran. Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for the Turkish president, called it a hateful crime against humanity. Ruling party spokesman Omer Celik accused Swedish authorities of protecting hate crimes. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told journalists that attacking the Quran cannot be considered freedom of expression and said he hoped Swedish authorities would revoke the permit for the protest.

It is the latest response from Turkey, a NATO member that has waited to approve Sweden’s application to join the military alliance until the Swedish government cracks down on groups Ankara considers security threats.

Turkey on Friday summoned the Swedish ambassador to condemn the planned protests, saying protests by pro-Kurdish groups linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, would be a violation of the joint memorandum signed between Turkey, Sweden and Finland that a Turkish veto prevented. for the NATO accession of the Nordic countries in June. Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group and in the memorandum Sweden and Finland say they also “affirm” that designation.

Earlier in January, during a protest by Kurds, an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hung on a lamppost. Turkey denounced a decision by a Swedish prosecutor not to launch an investigation and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called the protest an act of “sabotage” against Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Turkey earlier this week summoned the Swedish ambassador and canceled a visit by the speaker of the Swedish parliament in response to the incident.

All NATO members must ratify in their parliaments the accession requests of Sweden and Finland, made after Russia’s war against Ukraine prompted the Nordic countries to abandon their long-standing policy of military non-alignment. While Turkey says it has no objection to NATO’s growth, it will not ratify until its demands are met, including the extradition of alleged terror suspects.



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