Reinfeldt Reassures Erdogan
The Swedish Government continues to distance itself from the decision in the Swedish parliament to recognise the deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
In a phone call on Saturday, Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt ensured his Turkish counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he did not agree with the decision.
"I said I regretted the decision in parliament because of the bad timing, since a reconciliation process has started, which is seen as important by both parties, Armenians and Turkey," Reinfeldt told Swedish Radio News at a press conference on Sunday, which he had called to explain his position.
Also in his conversation with Erdogan, Reinfeldt said he expressed his concern over what he fears is "a new foreign policy" where historical events are turned into party politics, rather than leaving it to historians and academics to decide what has or has not happened - "as we did before, in broad agreement with the Social Democrats".
With the Swedish Government being one of Turkey's strongest backers in its bid to join the European Union, Reinfeldt made sure to tell Erdogan that Sweden would continue to back Turkey in this.
"Sweden is a fond supporter of the reform efforts that Prime Minister Erdogan and his party represent in Turkey", Reinfeldt said. Efforts that according to Reinfeldt "have lead to a reconciliation process with Armenia, democracy initiative and opening up of issues regarding minority rights."
Meanwhile, a Social Democratic newspaper has dug up an interview from 2006 with Reinfeldt where he - ahead of the Swedish elections that year - supports the idea of defining the killings of Armenians in the beginning of last century as genocide. That point of view seems to be abandoned today.
Also on Saturday, at informal meeting of EU's foreign ministers in Finland, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Sweden jointly condemned the vote, Reuters reports.
"It is regrettable because I think the politicisation of history serves no useful purpose," the Swedish minister Carl Bildt told reporters.
"We are interested in the business of reconciliation, and decisions like that tend to raise tensions rather than lower tensions," he said.