Sweden’s Flammantidning launched a controversial competition on Tuesday. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Leonidas Aretakis, announced that they would pay out 10,000 Swedish kronor (1,000 euros) for “satire cartoons” of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ankara has yet to comment on the contest, but it is likely to draw condemnation from Türkiye, which is already at odds with the Nordic country over its flagrant tolerance of the PKK terrorist group. The contest is indeed being marketed as a reaction to Turkey’s criticism of a demonstration by PKK supporters last week in Stockholm, during which the crowd hanged a picture of Erdoğan.
The newspaper announced the competition with a drawing by Swedish artist Carl Johan De Geer (known for his “Desecrate The Flag” drawing). The paper replaced the Swedish flag in the original work by De Geer with a Turkish flag, with a slang word scrawled next to a “burning” crescent and star. It said it would publish the “best works” in future editions and set a January 20 deadline for submissions.
Türkiye has a say in the ratification of the membership bid for Sweden and Finland to the NATO alliance but only on Ankara’s terms. Erdoğan said last week that extradition of terrorists is a must for Sweden if it wants the right to join NATO.
“Türkiye has told Sweden that its parliament cannot ratify Sweden’s NATO membership unless they hand over the terrorists they have,” Erdoğan said, referring to Sweden and Finland’s commitment last June as part of an agreement to take a firmer stance against terrorism to join the alliance. . “First of all, they need to extradite almost 130 terrorists for their bid to pass our parliament, (but) unfortunately they have not yet done this,” Erdoğan declared, speaking at a youth rally in the southwestern Muğla province.
Referring to a joint press conference he held last November with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Erdoğan said he said he would extradite fugitive suspect Bülent Keneş to Türkiye, stressing the importance of the issue, as Keneş belongs to the Gülenist Terror Group ( FETÖ). Keneş, former editor-in-chief of Dagens Zaman Daily and suspected member of FETÖ, lives in Sweden.
Saying that demonstrations by PKK supporters are often seen on the streets of the capital Stockholm, Erdoğan underlined that Turkey repeatedly warned Sweden about this, but “despite our warnings, unfortunately there was no action to stop PKK/YPG demonstrations.”
The Turkish president also said that Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop canceled his Swedish counterpart Andreas Norlen’s visit to Türkiye in response to recent open provocations by PKK supporters in Stockholm. “If they don’t take a stand against this situation, it could strain our relations with Sweden even more,” he added, just days after a demonstration in Stockholm directly threatened Erdoğan himself.