Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) sympathisers will hold a major protest in Stockholm, Sweden today.
The protest aims to discourage the Swedish government from imposing further restriction on the PKK at the Turkish government’s request. To win Turkey’s backing toward NATO accession, Sweden agreed to Turkish demands for a harsher stance against Kurdish militant groups like the PKK—which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation. More recently however, key Swedish political figures such as Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson suggested Ankara’s demands, like cracking down on anti-Turkish protests, are too far reaching and would curtail the rights of Swedish citizens.
Turkey’s preoccupation with the PKK and Sweden is an attempt by incumbent President Recep Erdogan is divert attention away from a difficult domestic economy and rampant inflation by putting foreign policy in the spotlight. Nevertheless, with the 2022 Istanbul bombings being attributed to the PKK, the issue has continued to draw significant political attention.
While the protests are unlikely to have a significant impact on Swedish policy, Swedish government will be pressured to stop making concessions. Should President Erdogan remain in power after June, Turkey will likely soften its stance on Sweden joining NATO given rival Russia strongly opposes the move.
Cian is a Research Analyst and contributes to both Analysis and the Daily Brief. He specializes in Australian and European geopolitics with a particular interest in the strategic autonomy of the EU.