Turkey has previously accused Sweden of supporting and arming Kurdish organizations that it considers terrorists
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Tuesday condemned members of the country’s Left Party for posing with the flags of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian offshoots, YPG and YPJ, during a political event. Turkey recently lifted its opposition to Sweden joining NATO on the condition that it “prevents the PKK’s activities”.
Lawmakers Daniel Riazat, Momodou Malcolm Jallow and Lorena Delgado Varas from the Left Party were photographed holding the flags of these Kurdish groups at the Almedalen Week festival, an annual political forum held on the island of Gotland, over the weekend.
In a Twitter post tagging Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, Linde described the photographs as “completely unacceptable”.
“The PKK was branded a terrorist group as early as 1984, by Olof Palme’s government,” she tweeted. “And for good reason. The PKK has many innocent human lives on its conscience.”
The leftists stood firm in their decision to support the Kurds. “We are all behind this,” Vargas told the newspaper Aftonbladet on Monday. “Our party has made a party congress decision that the PKK should not be listed as a terrorist.”
Turkey has been waging a low-intensity conflict with the PKK and its Syrian offshoots since the 1980s, occasionally launching military offensives in Syria to target Kurdish fighters.
When Sweden and Finland applied to join the NATO alliance in May, Turkey threatened to block both countries’ accession if they did not lift an arms embargo on Ankara, extradited several Kurdish and other “terrorist suspects” and cracked down on the PKK’s activities within their own borders. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government as well the accused Sweden to arm the PKK with rocket launchers, which Linde vehemently denied.
However, Turkey dropped its objections to the Nordic countries’ bids last month after the three countries agreed to a ten-point protocol that Stockholm and Helsinki would “prevent the activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organizations and their extensions”.
Johannson replied to the incident after Linde’s tweet, in which he stated that “the leadership of the left party should immediately distance itself from this action”.