An advisor to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “nah” to Sweden’s bid for NATO membership after tensions between the two countries escalated over an effigy of Erdoğan hung in Stockholm this week.
The Turkish government were furious after footage showing an Erdoğan effigy hung by its feet outside Stockholm city hall during a protest went viral on Twitter. Ankara says the protest was organized by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and summoned Sweden’s ambassador to Ankara on Thursday to protest the incident.
“Sweden has surrendered to the PKK. It thinks itself as a state. You will never find an interlocutor in Turkey from now on. Nah, you will join NATO,” wrote Ayhan Ogan, an advisor to Erdoğan on Twitter, referring to Turkey’s veto power over the Nordic country’s application for NATO membership.
The word “nah” is used in Turkish as an informal and rude way to say “no” and is usually accompanied by a fig sign.
Many users on Twitter criticized Ogan for his strong language. The advisor said in a subsequent tweet that his words had disturbed the children of “good families” and recalled Adnan Menderes, a right-wing prime minister of Turkey who was hung after a military coup in 1960.
“I know you are missing those days. Do not hide behind Sweden’s politeness to the PKK. We will cut the tongue of those who defame Erdoğan, we will cut the hands of those who encroach him,” the advisor said.
The reaction of Turkey’s senior officials to the incident in Stockholm was not limited to Ogan’s response on Twitter.
Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay “cursed” the demonstration in Sweden, saying he expected Sweden to keep its promises made for NATO membership and not tolerate such provocations.
“We conveyed our reaction and expectation to the Swedish authorities. Taking concrete steps is a requirement of the law and our agreement,” said presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın, referring to a trilateral agreement signed by Finland, Sweden and Turkey last year in June to solve the deadlock in Helsinki and Stockholm’s bid for becoming NATO members. Ankara demanded the two countries take action against groups it considers as terrorists in exchange for allowing the two countries to join the Atlantic Alliance.
“This is not just an attack on our president. It is an attack on all of Turkey,” said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, adding that Turkey requested that Sweden punish all those responsible for the incident, which Çavuşoğlu labelled as a racist act and a hate crime.
Meanwhile, the speaker of Turkey’s parliament, Mustafa Şentop, cancelled a visit by Andreas Norlén, the speaker of the Swedish Riksdag, that was scheduled for next Tuesday. Şentop and Norlén discussed the incident over the phone on Friday.
“We urgently expect the perpetrators of this action to be identified, and concrete steps to be taken to prevent such incidents,” Şentop said after the conversation.
Turkey’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the centre-right Good Party (İYİP) also denounced the incident in Sweden.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson called the incident sabotage against Sweden’s efforts to join NATO, during an interview with a Swedish broadcaster.
“I would say this is sabotage against the Swedish NATO application,” Kristersson said. “It is dangerous for Swedish security to act in this way,” he added.