‘Islamist dictator’: Swedish far-right leader rejects further concessions to Turkey

Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, slammed Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an 'Islamist dictator', as the latter maintains his objections to ratifying Sweden's Nato application.

'Islamist dictator': Swedish far-right leader rejects further concessions to Turkey
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, whose party is a key ally of the Swedish government. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Jimmie Åkesson, whose party is currently propping up the Swedish government, made the comments in an interview with the Dagens Nyheter newspaper published on Wednesday.

There are limits on how far the country would go to appease Turkey to secure its Nato membership “…because it is ultimately an anti-democratic system and a dictator we are dealing with,” Åkesson told the newspaper.

Åkesson also questioned whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who prides himself on having never lost a national election over 20 years of rule, could be called democratically elected.

“I’m the party leader for the anti-islamic party SD and I have strong views on an Islamist dictator like Erdoğan. He is elected by the people, yes. But so is Putin in that sense,” Åkesson said.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats (SD) rose to be the country’s second largest party in the September general election with 20.54 percent of the vote. Their support is crucial in order to prop up Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s right-wing coalition government.

Turkey and Hungary are the only two countries who have yet to ratify Sweden’s Nato membership.

Ankara wants Stockholm to crack down on activists close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) before it will approve Sweden’s Nato aspirations.

It also wants them to go after people accused of ties to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based preacher it accuses of involvement over a failed 2016 coup, but who Washington has refused to extradite.

Åkesson’s comments come a week after pro-Kurdish activists hung an effigy of Erdoğan by its legs outside Stockholm city hall. The display was meant to evoke the fate of Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini, whose body was strung up after he was shot dead in 1945.

Both the Turkish and Swedish governments condemned the act, but that sparked a debate in Sweden about the need to avoid making sacrifices on freedom of expression.

Turkey and Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding at the end of June, paving the way for the membership process to begin. But Ankara says its demands remain unfulfilled – in particular for the extradition of Turkish citizens Turkey wants to prosecute for “terrorism”.

The Swedish government has stressed that the Swedish judiciary has the final say in these cases – and that the courts are independent.

On Saturday, Erdoğan’s foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin told reporters that the country was “not in a position” to ratify Sweden’s Nato membership.

Member comments

  1. Even a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day. As for Turkey’s “demands”, they have nothing to do with Sweden. Turkey is blackmailing Uncle Sam in order to receive F16 fighterjets, to do to Greece what Russia is doing to Ukraine. Imo Sweden has already been humiliated by Turkey, no need to continue doing that.

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Swedish foreign minister disappointed by Turkey not acting on Nato bid

Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom on Friday said he regretted Turkey's decision to hold off moving forward on his country's Nato bid, while pushing ahead with that of Finland.

Swedish foreign minister disappointed by Turkey not acting on Nato bid

“This is a development that we did not want, but that we were prepared for,” Billstrom told journalists, adding that the country’s priority was now securing ratifications from the two holdouts – Turkey and Hungary.

Following months of delays, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Friday that he was asking parliament to vote on Finland’s bid to join the Nato defence bloc.

However, he said he was still not ready to move forward on Sweden, which submitted its bid together with Finland in May of last year.

In another setback for Sweden, Hungary announced Friday that it would vote on Finland’s ratification on March 27, but Sweden’s bid would be decided on “later”.

READ ALSO: Erdoğan asks parliament to vote on Finland’s Nato bid alone

Billstrom declined to comment on the news from Hungary, saying he had no confirmation from Budapest.

The Nordic neighbours ended decades of military non-alignment and decided to join the US-led defence alliance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Their applications were accepted at a June Nato summit, but the bids still needed to be ratified by all 30 of the alliance members’ parliaments – a process that ran into trouble when it came to Turkey and Hungary.

Erdogan has accused Sweden in particular of not honouring the terms of a separate deal they reached in June 2022, under which Turkey had agreed to approve the bids.

READ ALSO: ‘Increased chance that Finland joins NATO before Sweden’: PM

Turkey has sought the extradition of dozens of Kurdish and other suspects it accuses of ties to outlawed militants and a failed 2016 coup attempt.

On Friday, the Turkish head of state said Sweden had still not agreed to extradite a list of some 120 people wanted by Ankara.

In Stockholm, Billstrom insisted that Sweden was living up to its commitments under the deal.

“We are doing everything that is written in this memorandum, but we do not do less and we do not do more than what is written in it,” he said.

READ ALSO: KEY DATES: The milestones ahead for Sweden’s Nato membership  

“This means that when extradition cases arise that are related to this memorandum, there will be decisions that can be positive and that can be negative from Turkey’s point of view and that is how it will simply be,” he added.