Turkey cancels Swedish defence minister visit after protest permit

Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador over authorities' permission for a protest, in which the Muslim holy book will be burned.

 THE FLAGS of Finland, NATO and Sweden are seen during a ceremony in Brussels earlier this week to mark the countries’ application for membership into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  (photo credit: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS)
THE FLAGS of Finland, NATO and Sweden are seen during a ceremony in Brussels earlier this week to mark the countries’ application for membership into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
(photo credit: JOHANNA GERON/REUTERS)

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday that a planned visit by his Swedish counterpart to Ankara has been cancelled after Swedish authorities granted permission for protests in Stockholm.

"At this point, the visit of Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson to Turkey on January 27 has become meaningless. So we cancelled the visit," Akar said.

"At this point, the visit of Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson to Turkey on January 27 has become meaningless. So we cancelled the visit,"

Hulusi Akar, Turkish Defense Minister

Swedish Defence Minister Jonson had planned to travel next week to Ankara at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart as the Nordic country hopes to nudge Turkey to ratify its bid to join NATO.

Akar said he discussed the lack of measures for protests in Sweden against Turkey with President Tayyip Erdogan and conveyed his reaction to his Swedish counterpart on the sidelines of a meeting of Ukraine Defence Contact Group.

"It is unacceptable not to make a move or react to these (protests). The necessary things needed to be done, measures should have been taken," Akar said according to a statement by Turkish defence ministry.

 Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar holds a news conference in Ankara, Turkey December 24, 2022. (credit: Turkish Defense Ministry via REUTERS) Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar holds a news conference in Ankara, Turkey December 24, 2022. (credit: Turkish Defense Ministry via REUTERS)

The protest

On Friday, Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador over authorities' permission for a protest, in which Muslim holy book the Koran will be burned, near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm scheduled to be held on Saturday.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry had already summoned Sweden's ambassador on Friday over the planned protests. The ministry said the envoy was told on Friday that the protest by a group sympathetic to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was considered to be a violation of agreements between the countries.

Finland and Sweden signed a three-way agreement with Turkey in 2022 aimed at overcoming Ankara's objections to their membership of NATO. Sweden says it has fulfilled its part of the memorandum but Turkey is demanding more, including extradition of 130 people it deems to be terrorists.