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GENOCIDE

Turkey PM hails ‘friend’ Reinfeldt

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's decision to distance himself from a Swedish parliament vote on the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks has been hailed as "very positive" by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking after talks with Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, Erdogan welcomed a telephone call made by Swedish premier on Saturday, voicing his sadness over the vote.

“I believe that the statements made by my friend the prime minister of Sweden Mr Reinfeldt are very important,” he said, speaking through a translator.

“He has explained in his statements that such decisions taken by the parliament of Sweden are politicising… he regrets to see that such decisions are being taken and he also assures that the Swedish people have very positive views about the Turkish people.”

Erdogan added: “I believe that these are all very positive statements… and I thank him for it.”

Sweden’s parliament moved last week to recognise as genocide the mass killings of Armenians and other ethnic groups in 1915 during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, going against the government’s advice.

Ankara quickly recalled its ambassador and cancelled a visit by Erdogan to Sweden after the vote, which came just days after a similar move by a US Congressional panel.

Armenians, and the majority of international researchers, say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed in a systematic campaign of extermination during World War I as the Ottoman Empire fell apart.

Turkey categorically rejects the genocide label, arguing that between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks were killed in civil strife when Armenians rose up for independence and sided with invading Russian forces.

But much to Ankara’s ire, parliaments in several countries have recognized the killings as genocide.

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TURKEY

Turkish government accused of trying to silence critics with arrest of Swedish writer

Charges against a Swedish-Turkish writer who was arrested while holidaying in Spain are an attempt by the Turkish government to silence its critics, non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) claims.

Turkish government accused of trying to silence critics with arrest of Swedish writer
File photo not related to the story. Photo: Petros Giannakouris/AP

Hamza Yalcin was arrested on Tuesday in Barcelona following the issue of an international arrest warrant from Turkey, who accuse him of organizing terrorist acts.

Since moving to Sweden in 1984, Yalcin has written for regime-critical newspaper Odak Dergisi, who according to RSF has angered President Erdogan in Ankara.

“This is an attempt from Erdogan to extend his power outside of the country's borders. He wants to show that he can reach critical voices even if they do not exist in the country. It's an abuse of international police cooperation that risks having major consequences,” RSF Sweden president Jonathan Lundqvist said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Swedish writer wanted by Turkey arrested in Spain

The organization insists that Spanish authorities should dismiss the Turkish accusations and release the 59-year-old to travel home to Sweden.

If he is sent to Turkey then he risks being tried along with over 100 other journalists who the Turkish government has accused of similar crimes, according to RSF. Turkey is ranked 155 out of the 180 countries in the RSF's Press Freedom Index.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry (UD) has asked to meet Yalcin.

“We want to have consular access, and both our embassy in Madrid and our consulate in Barcelona are in contact with the Spanish authorities and have asked for consular access,” UD communications officer Gunnar Vrang told TT.

Yalcin is the second Swedish national to be arrested on Turkey's orders in less then a month. Sweden's Foreign Minister criticized Turkey in July after IT consultant Ali Gharavi was jailed in the country along with several human rights activists for allegedly aiding a terror group. The Swedish government understood that he was there to attend a seminar about freedom of the internet.

READ ALSO: Sweden slams Turkey for jailing activist