‘Türkiye concerned about rising anti-Muslim hatred in Europe’


 ISTANBUL FEB 01, 2023

Activists and supporters take part during the Together Against Racism march protest on March 19, 2022, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Reuters File Photo)

Activists and supporters take part during the Together Against Racism march protest on March 19, 2022, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Reuters File Photo)


Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström speaks at an event at the European Parliament, Jan. 24, 2023. (AA File Photo)

Religion not included in NATO deal with Türkiye: Swedish FM


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Türkiye is concerned about rising anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts in Europe, especially in Scandinavian countries.

Speaking in a live broadcast on TRT, the president expressed disappointment about the lack of action against anti-Muslim violence in the West.

“We expect sincere steps from Sweden on fighting anti-Muslim hatred, we expect Sweden and Finland to fully abide by their pledges,” the president said.

Terming the memorandum of understanding a “roadmap,” he said it is essential that the countries fulfill their promises, especially in the fight against terrorism.

Apologies from Sweden will not fix the issues, he said, adding that the country has become “a safe haven for terrorist organizations.”

However, earlier on Wednesday, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström told the TT news agency that “religion is not part of the agreement” that was signed with Türkiye.

He said he understands Turkish anger over the incidents, which although legal are not respectful. He added that it is now necessary for all sides to calm down and that talks with Türkiye would continue.

Per a tripartite memorandum the sides inked in June last year, Stockholm has vowed to meet the said demands, including extraditing and increasing its crackdown on terrorist groups. For the previous month, however, public support in Sweden for the terrorist groups from their sympathizers has been raising the tensions between the two countries, which Ankara has repeatedly warned would jeopardize Stockholm’s NATO membership process.

Last week, Ankara suspended NATO talks with the two Nordic nations after an incident in Stockholm in which a far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran in front of its embassy, which drew global backlash.

Türkiye was already outraged by a Swedish prosecutor’s decision not to press charges against PKK terrorist sympathizers that hung President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s effigy by its ankles outside Stockholm City Court.

Erdoğan said Sweden “shouldn’t expect any support from Türkiye,” considering the leeway Swedish authorities gave for such public displays, even indicating that his country could approve Finland’s application and leave Sweden “shocked.”

Scrambling to stay in Ankara’s good graces, Helsinki reportedly made “immediate contact” with Erdoğan after his hint, with foreign ministers already convening for “preliminary discussions.”

Regarding the Ukraine war, Erdoğan said he does not think sending tanks to Ukraine could be an element of a solution.

“All of this is risky and only benefits gun barons,” he said.

Erdoğan asserted that he will continue talks with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine to find a way to secure a lasting peace.

Last week, the U.S. and Germany announced that they would arm Ukraine with dozens of battle tanks in its fight against Russia.

On tensions with Greece, he said Türkiye “will not just stand by as Greece takes actions that threaten its security,” vowing that Ankara “will respond both legally and in the field.”

Greece’s recent attitude toward Türkiye is against the spirit of good neighborly relations and the NATO alliance, he said.

He reiterated that Athens is arming islands in the East Mediterranean in violation of international law.

Türkiye and Greece are at odds over several issues, including competing claims to jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.

One of the most recent tensions was caused after Greece reportedly extended 12 nautical miles of its territorial waters to the south and west of the island of Crete.



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