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Turkey: No partnership deal with Sweden after 'genocide' vote

15 March 2010 [11:31] - TODAY.AZ
Following the passage of a ‘genocide' resolution by a US House committee, the Swedish legislature adopts a similar measure, drawing a strong response from Turkey and the canceling of PM Erdoğan's visit to Stockholm. Another casualty of the vote is Turkey's refusal to sign a strategic-partnership deal with Sweden.

The passing of a resolution in the Swedish parliament labeling the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as “genocide” has prevented Sweden from signing a strategic-partnership deal with Turkey.

The vote, following the adoption of a similar measure by a U.S. House committee, drew a sharp response from Ankara, which swiftly recalled its ambassador to Stockholm in a show of protest.

The Swedish envoy to Ankara was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in response to the vote, which the Turkish government considers a setback in Turkish-Swedish relations. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meanwhile declared that he has canceled a scheduled trip to Sweden.

Erdoğan and the prime minister of Sweden were scheduled to sign an agreement in Stockholm this week under which the two countries planned to hold annual meetings on every level in the fields of politics, business and culture.

“We did hope to welcome Prime Minister Erdoğan to Sweden in order to set up a strategic partnership similar to what Turkey has with Italy and Spain,” Swedish Ambassador to Turkey Christer Asp told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview.

The top diplomat originally planned to go to Stockholm over the weekend in preparation for the Turkish prime minister’s visit but had to cancel the trip after the vote.

“We attach great importance to our relations with Turkey. But, of course, now see what happened, and Mr. Erdoğan canceled his trip. That is another negative fallout,” Asp said, adding that they would continue to work on establishing relations.

The Swedish parliament was not unanimous in its vote, Asp said.

“The opposition side, with the support of parliamentarians from the governing side, managed to carry the resolution. Every year it has been rejected,” he said. “This year, when the issue first came up in the parliament’s foreign-relations committee, it was also rejected, but the opposition side obviously managed to convince some parliamentarians to jump ship at the last moment. That’s why it happened.”

Sweden’s center-right coalition government has distanced itself from the resolution, which passed by a 131-130 vote. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Friday that he deplored the vote and assured it would not have an immediate consequence on the government’s policy toward Turkey.

Asp, who explained his government’s position to Turkish Foreign Ministry officials, said: “I underlined that this is the decision by the Swedish parliament. It is not a legally binding decision on the government.”

“According to Swedish constitutional rules, it is up to the government whether to transform the decision into government policy or not,” he added.

According to the top diplomat, the Swedish government believes history should not be politicized and backs the historical commission that has been suggested and agreed upon in the Turkish-Armenian protocols. This position, he said, remains unchanged.

/Hurriyet Daily News/

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