STOCHOLM (Hurriyet)–Following an increase in tension due to a Swedish parliamentary resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the Scandinavian country’s prime minister urged Turkey on Tuesday to prevent any deterioration in relations.
The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) approved last week, by a margin of one vote (131-130), a motion that called on the government to properly recognize the annihiliation of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government during World War I as genocide. In protest, Ankara recalled its ambassador to Stockholm and cancelled the Turkish prime minister’s planned visit to Sweden.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt phoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday to again express his regrets in an effort to repair the bilateral ties.
“It [the Riksdag’s decision] paves the way for a politicization of historical events… This could be used by forces in Turkey that are trying to put a stop to the process of reconciliation with Armenia and the process of reform in Turkey,” Reinfeldt said in a statement released Tuesday.
Drawing attention to the ongoing accession talks with the European Union, Reinfeldt said the reform process in Turkey bodes well for the country’s possible future EU membership. “It is a process that takes time and must be allowed to do so,” he said.
“The people of Sweden have a positive view of Turkey. The many Turks who live and work here have played an important role in the development of our society,” Reinfeldt added.
The Swedish prime minister urged an ease to tensions, saying: “I hope that these valuable contacts between people will help us get over what has now happened. What is important now is that we are able to prevent any deterioration in the extraordinarily good relations between our countries, by continuing our open and constructive dialogue.”
Reinfeldt concluded his statement by vowing to “act energetically to advance Turkey’s EU process.”
In Istanbul, a senior Turkish official said the messages of regret by the Swedish government might pave a way for the Turkish ambassador to return to her post.
However, it remains to be seen how long it will take for Turkish Ambassador Namik Tan, who was also recalled for consultations following the approval on March 4 of a similar bill by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“Calling back the ambassador for consultations is a way to send a message to show our reaction. We see that the message has started to sink in,” said a senior Turkish official who asked to remain anonymous. “Yet, the time is still not ripe to send Tan back.”
The government seems to be keeping Ambassador Tan in Ankara until Turkey’s threats message is clearly understood that a presidential statement recognizing the Genocide will seriously hamper U.S.-Turkish relations as well as the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation process.