Erdogan wants Swedish PM to fire defence minister

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson should dismiss Defence Minister Peter Hullqvist, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the newspaper Expressen reported on Saturday.

Erdogan’s demand is based on a speech Hulqvist gave at a party 10 years ago where he celebrated the Kurdistan Workers’ People, PKK, and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan, according to the sources cited by Expressen.

In 2011, Hultqvist – a Social Democrat MP at the time – attended a party at the People’s House in Borlänge celebrating the 33rd birthday of PKK.

At the time, he said he attended the event because he wanted to defend the Kurds. In particular, he wanted to show support to the Kurdish Peace and Democratic party, which has since been renamed the Democratic Regions Party, in its efforts to have Kurdish recognised as an official language in Turkey.

“I said that the Kurds should be respected as a people, that it is wrong to persecute those who are members of the BDP, that it is wrong to imprison people and deny the Kurds the use of their language in official contexts,” he said at the time.

“Supporting the BDP is a peaceful solution to the conflict that I support. I do not support violence or terror. Going to a meeting and saying those things is not a problem,” Hulqvist said, adding that “a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question is the most important thing and that democracy is respected.”

“Turkey wants Hultqvist removed as defence minister,” according to an Expressen informant who pointed to the issue having been raised in contacts between government representatives in Sweden and Turkey.

These revelations come as Turkey is demanding Sweden fulfil a set of conditions for it to approve its NATO application. Among them is the demand that Stockholm severs all ties with the ISIS-fighting YPG Kurdish militia since Ankara sees it as an armed wing of the PKK.

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