Pinar Dinc Interviewed About Sweden-Turkey Relations
CMES scholar Pinar Dinc has been interviewed by Dagens Nyheter about the relationship between Turkey and Sweden in relation to Sweden's NATO application and recent protests in both countries.
The article "Expert: Så bör Sverige agera efter hotet om bojkott" (In English "Expert: How Sweden Should Act After the Threat of Boycott"), written by Frida Bergkvist, was published on January 26, 2023 in Dagens Nyheter. Below are some excerpts from the interview translated into English.
The call for a global boycott against Sweden came from the al-Azhar University on Wednesday after the Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist Rasmus Pauludan burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on Saturday. (...) Pinar Dinc, researcher at the Centre for Advanced Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University, argues that the best thing that Sweden can do right now is to wait.
– You have to keep in mind how views on democracy differ in Sweden and Turkey.In Turkey, it is extremely difficult to obtain permits for any form of assembly and demonstration, even peaceful ones. That's not how it works in Sweden, the Swedish government must be clear about that. There is really nothing else that Sweden can do in this situation.
Pinar Dinc does not believe that the message of boycott will affect Swedish companies and interests:the boycott is still at an individual level and we don't know how many people could conceivably get involved, and how big of an impact that group could have, she says.
– The Turkish people have other issues on the agenda. They talk about the upcoming presidential election, about potential counter-candidates and about difficult financial problems. At the same time, inflation in Turkey is extremely high, much higher than in Sweden. Even state news agencies, such as Anadolu Agency, show images of only a handful of people protesting. There are no major protests in either Istanbul or Ankara, she says.
Erdogan is a political leader who is known for making such plays and making demands. He has a particular leadership style and he has been in power for a long time. There is of course a risk that he will refrain from ratifying the Swedish NATO application, but the important thing now is how Sweden acts, says Pinar Dinc.
What significance does the Turkish election in May have for Erdogan's handling of the Swedish NATO application?
– The issue of Sweden's NATO membership is far from Erdogan's main focus in the upcoming election in Turkey. He has an election to win and as it stands now he risks losing power. But Sweden's NATO application can be utilised in the matter of the Kurds in Turkey's domestic and foreign policy in Syria. Erdogan has criminalized the Kurds in an escalating fashion in recent years. What is happening now is a reflection of that approach at the international level, says Pinar Dinc.