Travel warning to Europe following protests
Turkey issued a travel warning late Saturday for its citizens living in or planning on going to European countries, citing Islamophobia and anti-Turkish demonstrations.
The warning comes after last weekend’s protests in Sweden where an anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkey.
The Turkish foreign ministry urged its citizens to take precautions and stay away from demonstration areas. It also said they should go to local authorities if they face xenophobic or racist attacks.
Turkey strongly condemned far-right activist Rasmus Paludan’s burning of the Quran in Stockholm, which he repeated in Copenhagen Friday. Ankara also summoned the Dutch ambassador after another far-right activist tore pages of the Quran in the Hague.
The Turkish government also said there was an increase in anti-Turkish protests by “groups with links to terror groups”, a reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey. Pro-Kurdish groups have been demonstrating in Sweden, waving the flags of the PKK and its affiliates. The protests are a response to Sweden and Finland’s promise to prevent the PKK’s activities in their countries in order to gain Turkey’s approval for their NATO bids.
Following the protests, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect support for its membership bid for the military alliance. Turkey also indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that would have discussed Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.
Earlier Saturday, before Turkey had issued its travel warning, the Nordic countries separately issued updated travel guidelines for Turkey. Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden urged their citizens visiting Turkey to avoid large gatherings and to exercise caution.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said in a message on its website that Sweden’s embassy in Ankara remains closed to the public and visitors to the country’s consulate general in Istanbul are “requested to exercise vigilance”.
“We want to make Swedes in Turkey aware that further manifestations may occur,” the Swedish ministry said, referring to counter-protests that erupted in Turkey after last weekend’s events in Stockholm.