Sweden could join NATO earlier if Turkey’s Social Democratic party, currently in opposition but doing well in the polls, comes to power following elections in Mid-May, Sinan Ülgen, a former Turkish diplomat, told the SVT’s Agenda programme.
Turkey will hold general elections on 14 May, and for the first time in over a decade, the social-democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP) has a real chance of leading the country in the parliamentary and presidential elections – something that could benefit Sweden in the NATO process.
“The CHP is much more interested in actually strengthening Turkey’s Western identity,” Sinan Ülgen, a former Turkish diplomat, told SVT’s Agenda programme.
According to Ünal Çeviköz, chief advisor to leading opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the party will put an end to the incumbent government’s delay in approval.
“If the opposition wins, there is a high probability that Sweden’s application will be approved before the meeting in Vilnius on 11-12 July,” he said.
However, he emphasised that even if Erdogan’s government wins, he does not believe that Turkey wants to become the country that blocks Sweden’s accession to NATO.
“If the government remains in power, NATO negotiations could extend beyond the Vilnius meeting”, he said, adding that the Turkish parliament would eventually ratify Sweden’s NATO application.
Stockholm and Ankara are at odds as Turkey continues to delay the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid due to Stockholm’s refusal to extradite Kurdish members of the opposition, accused by Ankara of being terrorists, and a perceived institutionalised anti-muslim sentiment.
In January, right-wing Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Quran outside the Turkish embassy. His move has prompted massive demonstrations across the Muslim world and soured relations with Ankara to the point that Turkish President Erdogan is now demanding Sweden change its laws to make Quran burning illegal.
According to Swedish law, burning a book such as the Quran falls under the protection of freedom of speech. It is punishable by law in Finland, which has been presented as one of the reasons why Turkey ratified its NATO bid before Sweden’s.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)
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