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Prime Minister Reinfeldt and President Gül. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/Scanpix

Swedish government pledges support for Turkish EU membership

Sweden and Turkey signed a "strategic partnership" during the state visit of President Abdullah Gül, reports Swedish Radio News.

The Swedish government is a strong supporter of Turkey's bid to join the EU, said Prime Minister Reinfeldt on Tuesday.

New EU negotiations will begin this spring. and Turkey is required to bring in a series of reforms, including improving democracy, human rights and treatment of the Kurdish minority. While the Turkish president pointed to his country's strong and growing economy he also said that it did need to make changes, in order to become fully democratic.

Addressing the Swedish parliament on Wednesday president Gül thanked Sweden for its support of Turkey's EU ambitions, and said that Turkey has always been with "our Swedish friends" when it counted, reports news agency TT. He pointed to the way Swedish king had sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire in the early 18th century, to carry on the war against Russia, as a concrete example.

Speaking in Turkish, Social Democrat politician Yilmaz Kerimo asked President Gül about the lack of democratic rights for ethnic minorities in Turkey, and about the imprisonment of journalists. The president replied that Yilmaz Kerimo was far from his motherland, and that there were problems in the past, but that the situation is improving.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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