NATO membership: Swedish far  right leader calls Erdogan ‘Islamist dictator’

NATO membership: Swedish far right leader calls Erdogan ‘Islamist dictator’

By Le Figaro with AFP

Posted 2 hours ago, updated 1 hour ago

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. ADEM ALTAN / AFP

Turkey said on Saturday it was “unable” to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership as it stands.

The leader of Sweden’s far-right, the first formation of the parliamentary majority, on Wednesday described Turkish President Erdogan as an “Islamist dictator” amid stalled negotiations with Ankara over Sweden’s EU accession. Jimmie Åkesson and his Sweden Democrats (SD) party are not in government, but they are the mainstay of conservative Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in parliament. The leader of the far-right party called for not giving in too much to the Turkish president in NATO.

Turkey blocked

“We can’t go too far. Because it is above all an undemocratic system and a dictator that we are dealing with,” he explained in an interview with the daily Dagens Nyheter. “I am the leader of the anti-Islamist SD party and I have a strong opinion of an Islamist dictator like Erdogan. He’s elected by the people, yes. But it is also the case of Putin,” says the leader of the Swedish far-right formation. These statements come as Swedish-Turkish negotiations over Sweden’s NATO accession appear to be at an impasse.

At the beginning of January, Ulf Kristersson had the feeling that Ankara was asking for things that Stockholm could not and would not give them. Turkey is “unable” to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership, Ibrahim Kalin, a close adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Saturday after a new diplomatic incident. Last week, a pro-Kurdish group hung a mannequin with Erdogan’s image on its feet in front of Stockholm City Hall, denouncing a “dictator”. Both the Turkish and Swedish governments strongly condemned the operation, sparking a debate in Sweden about the need not to sacrifice freedom of expression and demonstration.

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Turkey has been blocking Sweden’s – like Finland’s – accession to NATO since May, accusing them of harboring members of the PKK and organizations allied to it, which it considers terrorists, on its territory. Despite a memorandum of understanding signed at the end of June, Ankara still sees its demands as unfulfilled, particularly for the extradition of Turkish citizens whom Turkey wants to prosecute for “terrorism”. The Swedish government emphasizes that the Swedish judiciary has the final say in these cases and the courts are independent.