Analysis: Can Sweden meet Türkiye’s expectations to ensure NATO entry? - M5 Dergi
Defence NewsÖne Çıkan

Analysis: Can Sweden meet Türkiye’s expectations to ensure NATO entry?

Abone Ol 

Stockholm will have to do much more to curb anti-Türkiye and anti-Muslim acts on its soil to ensure the Turkish parliament’s final approval to enter the security bloc.

The Turkish president agrees to refer Sweden’s long-awaited NATO bid to parliament in return for more effective counter-terrorism measures in the alliance and renewed process of Türkiye’s EU accession.

Sweden’s NATO bid is headed to the Turkish parliament for approval after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greenlighted the Nordic nation’s long-delayed bid to join the 30-member security bloc.

“Our parliament will follow the steps taken and will make the right decision in line with the interests of our country,” Erdogan said after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg made public Ankara’s go-ahead at the Vilnius summit last week.

Following a meeting between President Erdogan, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO chief, the Turkish President signalled to back Sweden’s bid in return for Swedish support for Türkiye’s EU process, visa liberalisation and updating the Customs Union and establishing bilateral security mechanisms with Ankara.

The reasons behind the year-long wait for Sweden to receive Türkiye’s blessings are mainly grounded in events unfolding in the Nordic country, which has become a breeding ground for anti-Islam protests and supporters of the PKK terror group.

And despite the Swedish government’s assurances, it appears to have failed to stop anti-Muslim acts in the country.

In what is being seen as yet another provocative act, police in Sweden have granted permission to another Quran-desecration outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm on Thursday. The rally, incidentally, has been organised by two people, including Salwan Momika, who was involved in the previous incident on Eid al Adha.

Angry people in Baghdad stormed the Swedish embassy in protest against the proposed Quran-burning act.

As anger mounted in the Muslim world, Sweden’s refusal to act against religious hatred could yet scuttle its hopes of joining NATO soon as the Nordic nation has so far failed to convince Türkiye of its commitment to meet Ankara’s demands.

Here’s a look at how the recent developments could damage the positive atmosphere.

Fight against anti-Muslim hatred

Until early January, Ankara’s concerns regarding Sweden’s NATO bid were centred mainly on the growing presence of the PKK’s support base that was allowed to organise and hold anti-Türkiye demonstrations in the country and Sweden’s unwillingness to take actions against FETO terrorists and their underground workers.

Participants in anti-Türkiye demonstrations often engaged in uncouth and provocative activities – such as desecrating the Turkish flag and burning effigies of President Erdogan.

Soon after, anti-Muslim figures in the country began to openly provoke Türkiye and the Muslim world.

First, a known Islamophobe and far-right political operative, Rasmus Paludan, burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Sweden in January.

The second such burning was allowed to occur on the Muslim festival of Eid ul Adha in late June – when Iraqi Salwan Momika desecrated the holy book in front of the Stockholm Central Mosque.

The Swedish government condemned the event, calling it “Islamophobic,” after a call from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

However, the permission granted for Thursday’s planned Quran-burning protests outside the Iraqi embassy in Stockholm has raised doubts over Sweden’s commitment to its promise to take action against anti-Muslim events.

Such incidents have been defended under the pretext of freedom of speech.

Nagihan Haliloglu, a professor of humanities at Ibn Haldun University in Istanbul, tells TRT World that Sweden is leveraging the “freedom of speech” argument to score brownie points with the US and other European NATO partners.

Haliloglu, however, said that “Western Europe is slowly realising that using Muslim ‘intolerance’ towards ‘free speech’ as a trope will soon not work”.

Hungary, another NATO member, was in full agreement with Türkiye on the issue of Sweden becoming a sanctuary for anti-Muslim and anti-Türkiye voices.

Before President Erdogan broke the deadlock, Hungary refused to allow the Scandinavian nation into NATO. Several other European countries, including the US, have also condemned the acts of Quran burning in Sweden.

Under pressure from all quarters, Stockholm has opened a hate crime investigation against the Iraqi fanatic who desecrated the holy book.

EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, Nabila Massrali, also criticised the action, saying: “Burning the Quran or any other Holy Book is offensive and disrespectful and a clear act of provocation. Manifestations of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance have no place in Europe.”

Fight against terrorism

Türkiye has been fighting terrorism long before the US declared the “war on terror” following the September 11 attacks.

The PKK has been waging terror against Türkiye for about four decades, killing thousands of civilians, including women and children. The US and EU are familiar with the PKK’s violence against civilians and have designated it a terrorist organisation.

The terrorist organisation has been increasingly using some European countries as a ground for recruitment and propaganda, resulting in radicalised youth becoming part of its terror ranks in Syria, northern Iraq and Türkiye.

To win Ankara over, Sweden recently passed an anti-terror law, which made terror financing difficult. But the Turkish government sees such measures as cosmetic and ineffective unless the Scandinavian state stops proactive anti-Türkiye and anti-Muslim activities and approves Ankara’s extradition requests. Since 2017, Türkiye has repeatedly demanded the extradition of PKK/PYD and FETO terrorists.

In a first-ever ruling against PKK, a Swedish court sentenced a PKK member for being part of an extensive terror financing and drug dealing.

However, last week, the Swedish Supreme Court rejected the extradition of two wanted FETO members by Türkiye, saying it does not meet dual criminality requirements.

Arms exports and terrorism

Sweden and Finland have lifted bans on arms exports to Türkiye, but Turkish authorities say more concrete steps are needed in light of combating the growing threat of PKK in Europe.

The ban was a result of the Turkish government’s fight against PKK-affiliated terror groups, mainly YPG/PYD and YPG-dominated SDF in northern Syria.

The US and its allies have been supporting SDF in its fight against Daesh while delinking SDF from PKK to normalise their dealings with the terror group.

Sweden’s arms supplies to PKK/PYD in Syria have always been a bone of contention between the two sides.


Abone Ol 

Related Articles

Abone Ol 
Back to top button