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Finnish Parliament Speaker Cancels Visit to Turkey After Ankara Disinvites Swedish Rep

© Flickr / Iago LazFinnish Flag
Finnish Flag - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.01.2023
HELSINKI (Sputnik) - Finland's parliamentary speaker Matti Vanhanen on Friday called off his planned trip to Ankara after Turkey canceled the invitation to his Swedish counterpart over a Kurdish protest in Stockholm.
Mustafa Sentop, the speaker of the Turkish parliament, said earlier in the day that his Swedish counterpart, Andreas Norlen, was no longer welcome after the Rojava Committee of Sweden hung an effigy made in the likeness of the Turkish president from a lamp pole during a protest outside Stockholm City Hall.
"We planned to fly together on a Swedish government's plane, so technically it is impossible for me to travel there alone," Vanhanen was quoted as saying by Finnish broadcaster YLE.
Later in the day, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom expressed regret over Ankara's decision to ban the visit of the Swedish parliament speaker to Turkey due to the PKK demonstration.

"The Government understands Turkey's reaction, although it regrets that the Speaker of the Riksdag's [the Swedish parliament] visit has been postponed. Relations with Turkey are very important to Sweden," Billstrom said in the statement.

Earlier in the week, supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), labeled as terrorist by Ankara, held a demonstration against the Turkish government in Stockholm. The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador to Ankara in protest of the rally. In addition, the Turkish Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case.
The Turkish parliament is yet to ratify the Nordic countries' joint bid to become NATO members. Turkey has demanded that the two crack down on Kurdish activists, whom it sees as terrorists for supporting the PKK.
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