ISTANBUL (UKTN) — Turkey on Saturday canceled a planned visit by Sweden’s defense minister in response to the Nordic country’s permits for anti-Turkish protests.
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.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the planned visit of his Swedish counterpart Pål Jonson on January 27 has been canceled. He said the visit no longer had “any significance or point” because Sweden continued to allow “disgusting” demonstrations against Turkey.
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.
Turkey on Friday summoned the Swedish ambassador to condemn the protests, saying protests by pro-Kurdish groups linked to the Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK, would be a violation of the joint memorandum signed between Turkey, Sweden and Finland that overruled a Turkish veto. prevented the Nordic countries from joining NATO 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 the Turkish president 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.