Turkey summons Swedish ambassador over Erdogan effigy protest

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party should not be allowed to parade around Sweden [File: Reuters]

Footage shared by Turkish media showed what they said was a protest by PKK members in which they hung an effigy of Erdogan outside Stockholm city hall.

Turkey has summoned Sweden’s ambassador to Ankara over a demonstration in Stockholm in which an effigy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hung from its feet.

Staffan Herrstrom, Sweden’s ambassador to Turkey, was summoned to the foreign ministry on Thursday, and Ankara’s reaction was conveyed to him, a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters news agency.

Sweden has been seeking Turkey’s approval to join NATO, for which it applied after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Ankara has said Sweden needed to take a clearer stance against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and what Turkey regards as its Syrian offshoot, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey designates both groups as “terrorist” entities, while Sweden, as part of the European Union, only considers the PKK to be a “terrorist” group.

Finland and Sweden signed a three-way agreement with Turkey in 2022 aimed at overcoming Ankara’s objections to their NATO membership.

“Our expectation that the perpetrators of the incident need to be identified, the necessary processes be carried out, and Sweden uphold its promises was emphasised,” the diplomatic source said.

Sweden’s foreign ministry confirmed the ambassador had been called to the foreign ministry in Ankara, but declined to give details of what had been discussed.

Herrstrom was previously summoned in October over “insulting content” about Erdogan on Swedish public service television.

Scenes of protests in Stockholm have been a particular issue mentioned by Turkish authorities in the past, with Erdogan saying members of the PKK should not be allowed to parade around Sweden.

On Thursday, footage shared by pro-government Turkish media outlets showed what they said was a protest by PKK members in which they hung an effigy of Erdogan outside Stockholm city hall. Very few people could be seen in the footage.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Stockholm condemned the incident but did not refer directly to any country.

“The government protects an open debate about political choices, but strongly distances itself from threats and hatred against political representatives,” he said on Twitter.


Sweden’s prime minister said on Sunday that Stockholm was confident Turkey would approve its NATO bid, but would not meet all the conditions Ankara has set.

“That PKK terrorist can challenge the Swedish government at the heart of Stockholm is proof that the Swedish authorities have not taken necessary steps against terrorism,” the Turkish presidency’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said on Twitter.

The PKK has been waging a rebellion against the Turkish state since 1984.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since then.

The YPG, however, is the leading force in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Western nations have backed in the fight against ISIL (ISIS), leading to tensions with Turkey.



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