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Türkiye says Sweden’s refusal to probe terrorist PKK’s provocation against President Erdogan ‘absurd’

Türkiye on Tuesday lashed out at Sweden's refusal to prosecute supporters of the PKK terror group for last week's provocative demonstrations against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Stockholm.

"The (Swedish) prosecutor office's decision to not probe the incident is extremely absurd, we all know what the rule of law means," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Ankara, Türkiye's capital.

The provocation was carried out by terrorists, Cavusoglu said, reminding Sweden of the tripartite memorandum including Finland, which was signed in a NATO summit last June, to address Türkiye's security concerns.

"When you look at Sweden's testimony in the memorandum, do they have a promise to fight them (terrorists)? Yes, they have. Secondly, we are talking about freedom of expression. Is this attack, this provocation a racist attack? Yes," he said.

The Turkish foreign minister asked Swedish authorities whether racism and hate crimes are considered as offences in the Nordic country.

"This is a racist and hateful act ... a hate crime, this is against universal values and is a crime according to international law. If they think that Sweden is distracting us with word games, we would like to say that they are only deceiving themselves," Cavusoglu said.

He added that Sweden will "either fall victim to the mines laid by terrorists, or we will all walk forward by considering the safety of us and fulfilling the commitments in the memorandum. The decision here is on Sweden."

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in May 2022, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine.

But Türkiye – a NATO member for more than 70 years – voiced objections, accusing the two countries of tolerating and even supporting terror groups, including the PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Last June, Türkiye and the two Nordic countries signed a memorandum to address Ankara's legitimate security concerns, paving the way for their eventual membership in the alliance.

Türkiye has praised some steps taken by Sweden and Finland, but says the countries need to do more to show their firm stance against terrorism and terror groups that threaten Türkiye.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

FETO orchestrated a defeated coup in Türkiye on July 15, 2016, in which 252 people were killed and 2,734 wounded. Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

The Turkish foreign minister also commented on the possible tripartite meeting between Türkiye, Syria and Russia, saying steps are needed to be taken for permanent stability and peace in the war-torn country.

Both Türkiye and Iran support Syria's territorial integrity and political unity, Cavusoglu said, adding that Ankara and Tehran will closely cooperate in this regard.

Hailing ties with Iran, Cavusoglu said they addressed issues related to trade, energy, counter-terrorism and regional developments.

The two officials also discussed preparations for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi official visit to Türkiye.

Coming to counterterrorism, Cavusoglu said Türkiye and Iran are two countries that face terror threats.

"As Türkiye, we are taking the necessary measures and steps to eliminate the PKK threat. Unfortunately, the PKK also has a presence on the Iranian side. In this regard, our interior ministries, security units and intelligence shared the necessary information in the past," he said.

Cavusoglu said they constantly reiterate that sanctions against Iran are not beneficial, underlining that their stance on this issue is clear.

For his part, Iran's Abdollahian said he had bilateral meetings and important consultations in Ankara.

About his 90-minute meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said they discussed bilateral, regional and international issues.

We discussed improving our cooperation in the field of energy, culture, trade, and environmental cooperation, he said, adding that there was agreement on many issues.

Speaking about the commercial relations between the two states, the Iranian foreign minister said targets have been set to increase bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

"One of the most important topics of our meetings was to hold the 8th Türkiye-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council meeting," he said.

The 7th meeting of the Türkiye-Iran High-Level Cooperation Council took place during Erdogan's visit to Iran last July, he said, adding that the 8th meeting will be held during President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Türkiye.

He said the Iranian head of state was expected to visit Türkiye in late December 2022, but it was postponed due to his busy schedule.

Turning to ties between Türkiye and Syria, he said: "We are pleased that relations between Damascus and Ankara have changed. We are also pleased to see that Iran's efforts in this direction have come to fruition."

Any positive development between Ankara and Damascus is in the interest of these countries, Iran, and the region, Abdollahian said, adding that Tehran will do its "best to achieve this goal."

Asked about protests over the Sept. 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, he said women in Iran have "very high freedom and rights. The natural death of an Iranian girl caused great sadness to all of us."

"If the West claims to be the defender of women's rights in the world and in our country, why did it not oppose the death of a Palestinian Christian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh at the hands of the Zionist regime? Why did they not show a reaction for the rights of many women and children who died due to the initiatives of America and the West in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and even Yemen," he said.

Iran and Türkiye are two countries with "the strongest democracy in our region," he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency