Finnish Parliament Speaker cancels Turkey visit after Ankara decision
Finland's parliamentary speaker cancels his trip to Turkey after Ankara said his Swedish counterpart was no longer welcome.
Finland's Parliament Speaker Matti Vanhanen on Friday called off his planned trip to Ankara after Turkey canceled the invitation to his Swedish counterpart Andreas Norlen over a Kurdish protest in Stockholm.
"We planned to fly together on a Swedish government's plane, so technically it is impossible for me to travel there alone," Vanhanen was quoted as saying by Finnish broadcaster YLE.
Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said Norlen was no longer welcome after the Rojava Committee of Sweden hung an effigy made in the likeness of the Turkish president from a lamp pole during a protest outside Stockholm City Hall on Wednesday.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned on Thursday the Swedish Ambassador to Ankara in protest of the PKK rally. In addition, the Turkish Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case.
The Turkish Ministry accused Stockholm of neglecting its past commitments and demanded that the "perpetrators of this action are found."
Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's Presidential Chief Spokesperson, said in a tweet that Ankara condemns the video "in the strongest possible terms," urging the Swedish "to take necessary steps against terrorist groups without further delay."
Altun's tweet came after Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom denounced the video and said that Sweden supports "an open debate about politics" but "distances itself from threats and hatred against political representatives."
"Portraying a popularly elected president as being executed outside city hall is abhorrent," Billstrom added.
Read more: Swedes reject legal concessions to win Turkey’s NATO assent: Poll
Ankara expects Sweden to take real actions against PKK
In a related context, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated on Friday that Turkey expects Sweden to take concrete actions against the PKK rather than just condemn protests of its members and supporters in Stockholm.
"It is a crime based on racism and hatred. Sweden cannot avoid responsibility for this act. They cannot avoid it by just condemning it [the demonstrations]," Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani, in Ankara.
A couple of days ago, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson pointed out that his country cannot meet all of Turkey's demands as a condition for its support but is confident that Turkey will ultimately approve Sweden's accession bid to join NATO.
In mid-May 2022, Finland and Sweden submitted their NATO membership applications, abandoning decades of neutrality and citing a shift in the security situation in Europe. The consideration of the bids was initially blocked by Turkey due to Helsinki and Stockholm's long-standing support of the PKK, which Ankara regards as a threat to its national security.
Nevertheless, in June 2022, Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a security memorandum that unblocked the beginning of negotiations on the accession of the two Scandinavian countries to the alliance. The parties agreed to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including measures against the PKK, and address Ankara's concerns.
Sweden, in addition to Finland, still requires Turkey and Hungary's approval for their NATO accession bid to pass.
One request vs. a long list of conditions— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) June 28, 2022
While #Turkey had a long list of conditions from #Finland and #Sweden, all the two Nordic states wanted was to join #NATO.
Here's your guide to understanding on what basis the agreement was made. pic.twitter.com/Aw7Jtu7frp
The latest diplomatic tension comes as last month, Sweden's highest court denied Turkey's plea for the extradition of Bulent Kenes, a wanted journalist that Turkey deems a "terrorist" who resides in Sweden, ruling that he was ineligible for extradition because he had not yet received a jail sentence of one year or more.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described the ruling as a "particularly unfortunate event."
Kenes, a former ZAMAN daily editor-in-chief, is accused of being engaged in the 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has a history of being a staunch critic of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party.
The exiled journalist has been taking refuge in Sweden since 2017, and his extradition is scheduled to be decided by the Swedish Supreme Court before the end of this year.
Read more: Half of Finland opposes NATO base in Nordic country