Sweden–Turkey relations

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Swedish–Turkish relations
Map indicating locations of Sweden and Turkey



Swedish–Turkish relations are foreign relations between Sweden and Turkey. Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Union for the Mediterranean.

Sweden has an embassy in Ankara and a consulate–general in Istanbul. Turkey has an embassy in Stockholm.


Turkish and Swedish flags in front of the Swedish-based factory, Bergama, İzmir, Turkey

At the beginning of 18th Century, the two countries were allied against the Tsardom of Russia during the Great Northern War. Swedish King Charles XII, after his defeat in the Battle of Poltova, took refuge in the Ottoman Empire in the city of Bender. Charles was welcomed by Ottomans and corresponded with Gülnuş Sultan, the mother of Sultan Ahmed III, who took an interest in his cause. His expenses were covered by the Ottoman State budget, as part of the fixed assets (Demirbaş in Turkish), hence his nickname Demirbaş Şarl (Fixed Asset Charles) in Turkey.[a]

Sweden has had diplomatic relations with Turkey since the 1730s.[2] Sweden has been present in Istanbul at the same place as today since 1757. Sweden opened an embassy in Ankara in October 1934.[3]

In October 1934, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, Louise and Princess Ingrid visited Turkey. On 2 October they arrived in Istanbul where President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's salon car was waiting. The journey continued to Ankara where they were received by Atatürk, Foreign Minister Tevfik Rüştü Aras, members of the government and administration. The visit to Ankara lasted between 3 and 5 October. On 5 October a two-day visit to Bursa was made. The stay in Turkey ended with a four-day stay incognito in Istanbul, during which several receptions were held at the Swedish legation. On 10 October, the royal travelers continued with the Svenska Orient Linien's motor ship Vasaland, which arrived in Smyrna on the 12 October. From here, the departure took place on 15 October with the president's own train and on the 17 October arrival in Aleppo.[4]

The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SFII) was founded in 1962 and works to promote Swedish and Nordic research in and around Turkey, the Far East and Central Asia, primarily in the humanities and social sciences.[2] Business Sweden has been active in Turkey since 1991 with offices in Istanbul.[5]

When Sweden took over the rotating presidency of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2009, the then Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced his support of Turkey's European Union membership.[6] Sweden's Green Party has criticized France and Germany's opposition to Turkey's membership.[7][8]

In October 2021, in the wake of the appeal for the release of Turkish activist Osman Kavala signed by 10 western countries, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered his foreign minister to declare the Swedish ambassador persona non grata, alongside the other 9 ambassadors.[9] However, the ambassadors did not receive any formal notice to leave the country and Erdoğan eventually stepped back.[10]

In 2022, Turkey opposed Sweden joining NATO because according to Turkey it "hosts terrorist organisations which act against Turkey" (including the PKK, YPG and Gulen movement).[11]

Diyanet controlled mosques in Sweden[edit]

According to Dagens Nyheter in 2017, nine mosques in Sweden have imams sent and paid for by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). Along with their religious duties, the imams are also tasked with reporting on critics of the Turkish government. According to Dagens Nyheter, propaganda for president Erdogan is openly presented in the mosques.[12]

Armenian genocide dispute[edit]

On 12 June 2008, the Riksdag refused to refer to the 1915 events of the Armenian genocide as actual genocide.[13] However, on 11 March 2010, the Riksdag eventually voted for a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide.[14]

There was a majority of one vote, with a total of 131 in favour, 130 against, and 88 absent.[15][16][17] Turkey promptly recalled its ambassador to Sweden and cancelled talks that were intended to happen between the two countries on March 17, 2010.[18][19]

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by issuing a statement saying "We strongly condemn this resolution, which is made for political calculations. It does not correspond to the close friendship of our two nations".[19] Turkey's ambassador to Sweden Zergun Koruturk said on Aktuellt that there would be "drastic effects" of a long-term nature on relations between the two countries, saying "I am very disappointed. Unfortunately, parliamentarians were thinking that they were rather historians than parliamentarians, and it's very, very unfortunate".[17] Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt blogged from Copenhagen that he "regretted" the outcome of the vote.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Demirbaş, the Turkish word for fixed asset, is literally "ironhead" (demir as "iron", baş as "head"), which is the reason why this nickname has often been translated as Ironhead Charles. However, it should be said, that this translation is wrong and does not reflect the truth. Although, written separately, demir baş really means "iron head", the whole word demirbaş means "inventory",[1] which reflects Charles' long stay in Ottoman Bender at expenses of sultan's exchequer.


  1. ^ "Yandex.Transletor: DEMİRBAŞ". Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Turkiet" [Turkey] (in Swedish). Government Offices of Sweden. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  3. ^ Herrström, Staffan (4 November 2020). "Till svenskar som bor i Turkiet" [To Swedes living in Turkey] (in Swedish). Embassy of Sweden, Ankara. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  4. ^ Kjellberg, H.E., ed. (1934). Svenska Dagbladets årsbok (Händelserna 1934) [Svenska Dagbladet's yearbook (Events of 1934)] (in Swedish). Vol. 12. Stockholm: Svenska Dagbladet. p. 74. SELIBR 283647.
  5. ^ "TURKIET" [TURKEY] (in Swedish). Business Sweden. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Turkey Has Friends in EU, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt". Turkish Weekly. 21 April 2009. Archived from the original on 5 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  7. ^ "Sweden's Greens: Opposition to Turkey due to Islamophobia". Today's Zaman. 11 May 2009. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  8. ^ "German, French Leaders Oppose Turkey Joining EU". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on May 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  9. ^ "Turkey to declare 10 ambassadors 'persona non grata'". dw.com. 23 October 2021.
  10. ^ Gall, Carlota (2021-10-25). "Turkish President Steps Back From Expulsions of 10 Western Diplomats". New York Times. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  11. ^ "Erdogan says Turkey not supportive of Finland, Sweden joining NATO". reuters. 13 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Genom statsanställda imamer har Turkiet inflytande i nio svenska moskéer. Många turksvenskar i Stockholm, Göteborg och Malmö har slutat gå till moskén av rädsla. Den alltmer auktoritära turkiska regimen skrämmer och kartlägger meningsmotståndare i Sverige". DN.SE (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. 2017-04-01. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  13. ^ Swedish Parliament Refuses to Recognize the Armenian Genocide Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ https://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g220vjRf5SSVm5PTU7W4wjC2dUIgD9ECK0NO0[dead link]
  15. ^ "Swedish MPs enrage Turkey". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Turkey outraged as Sweden labels Armenian massacre 'genocide'". Deutsche Welle. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Turkey recalls envoy to Sweden over Armenia vote". Reuters. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  18. ^ "Déjà Vu? Turkey Recalls Ambassador to Sweden". Armenian Weekly. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  19. ^ a b "Sweden angers Turkey with Armenian vote". RTÉ. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010.

External links[edit]