Swedish PM condemns MPs posing with PKK flag amid Turkey Nato row

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Wednesday condemned a group of left-wing MPs who posed with flags from Kurdish militants as the country's Nato membership bid faces Turkish pressure over such groups.

Swedish PM condemns MPs posing with PKK flag amid Turkey Nato row
People hold the Kurdish workers party (PKK) flag during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France. Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

Nato on Tuesday kicked off the accession procedures for Sweden and Finland after a deal was struck with Turkey, which had blocked the Nordic nations from joining.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused them of being havens for Kurdish militants, specifically highlighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) he has sought to crush, and for promoting “terrorism”.

On Tuesday, images spread on social media showing parliamentarians from the Left Party, which opposed Sweden’s decision to apply for Nato membership, posing with flags from the PKK, as well as militant group YPG and the all-female YPJ, considered terrorist groups by Turkey.

The images were taken during an annual political gathering on the island of Gotland.

“The PKK is a designated terror organisation, not just in Sweden, but in the EU and posing with such flags is extremely inappropriate,” Andersson told news agency TT.

Left Party MP Lorena Delgado Varas, who was one of those involved in the political stunt, criticised what she called the hypocrisy of the other parties for supporting Kurdish groups while they were fighting the Islamic state group.

“Now they want to turn around, willing to cosy up with the dictator Erdogan. All to join Nato,” Delgado Varas wrote on Twitter.

Sweden’s Left Party is not part of the government but is helping prop up Andersson’s Social Democrat cabinet.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland reversed decades of military non-alignment by applying for Nato membership in mid-May. While Turkey approved formally inviting Sweden to join, the accession bid still needs to be ratified by all 30 Nato members.

Erdogan has warned that his country could still block Sweden and Finland if they fail to implement the deal with Ankara.
Turkey has also said it is seeking the extradition of 12 suspects from Finland and 21 from Sweden.

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Swedish motorists receive mystery air raid warning

Swedish motorists were left puzzled this week after mistakenly receiving an air raid warning, an incident authorities termed "serious" on Thursday given the war in Ukraine and Russia's irritation over Sweden's Nato bid.

Swedish motorists receive mystery air raid warning

“We are in the process of investigating how it happened”, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Transport Administration told AFP.

The alert was sent out on Wednesday on a so-called Traffic Message Channel, a system currently being phased out in Sweden that allows motorists to receive traffic updates via their car radio.

The message was sent out in the southern county of Blekinge, which is home to one of Sweden’s biggest air force bases.

“Important traffic message, Blekinge county: Air raid, danger”, appeared on vehicle dashboards, preceded by a danger triangle.

Media outlets then contacted the Transport Administration, informing it that the warning that had been sent out.

It was not immediately known how many motorists received the message. The Transport Administration said it knew “very little” about how it happened, but considered it “serious” given the current situation in the Nordic country and the war in Ukraine.

Moscow has reacted frostily to Sweden’s decision to abandon two centuries of military non-alliance and seek Nato membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russian military aircraft have violated Swedish airspace on several occasions this year before the country formally submitted its Nato application.

Sweden in 2018 reissued a wartime pamphlet to all households advising Swedes how to act in the event of a major crisis or conflict, despite the fact that the country has not experienced a war on its soil in more than 200 years.