Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström on developments in Turkey
Developments in Turkey are very worrying and the negative trend we have been seeing for several years now has recently accelerated. Sweden is working constantly to strengthen respect for human rights in Turkey. Sweden has for a long time been pursuing a policy of critical engagement with Turkey. The dialogue with Turkish representatives has increasingly involved critical messages concerning the deterioration of respect for human rights and the rule of law. In its contacts with Turkish representatives, both in Stockholm and in Turkey, the Government intends to continue presenting clear standpoints concerning developments.
This includes Sweden's firm view that measures against terrorism must not restrict fundamental rights and freedoms.
Recent developments concerning respect for human rights and the rule of law – not least the detention of opposition politicians, journalists and human rights activists – have added to increasing concern about this trend. These developments are also a reason for deeper commitment, both bilaterally and through the EU.
Read the human rights report about Turkey (in Swedish)
Bilaterally, we continue to provide support to actors working within the ever-shrinking democratic space. The negative trend we have seen in recent years concerning respect for human rights and the rule of law in Turkey strengthens our conviction that these are the areas in which we should continue to focus our support. We continually review the forms for this and who our cooperation partners are.
The Government is also pushing for the EU to jointly present its view of the situation in Turkey. We work in similar ways in other multilateral forums too, such as the Council of Europe. Relations between Turkey and the EU will change if the current negative trend continues. Sweden intends to ensure that the situation in Turkey is discussed as soon as possible between EU foreign ministers.The cases of two detained Swedish citizens have received media attention recently. Everything we do is not outwardly visible – what we do and say is always determined by what we think will most benefit each individual case.
Since Ali Gharavi was detained, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) has been working intensively on the case. We expect Turkey to release Ali Gharavi if the basis for the accusations cannot be clarified.
The MFA has requested to meet the Swedish citizen who has been detained in Barcelona, Spain. The ground for his detention is an international arrest warrant from Turkey. The MFA has confirmed that he has a lawyer and is working to gain clarity on the accusations.
The MFA also receives a great many questions about our consular work in general. More than 200 Swedes are currently being detained abroad. Even if you are a tourist or temporary resident in another country, you are subject to the laws and the judicial system that apply in that country.
However, there are some possibilities for Sweden to play a certain role. If you are arrested by the police abroad, you have the right to contact your country's embassy. Through our embassy or consulate, we can monitor on the ground that the detainee has access to a public counsel and request to visit the person in prison. We can also contact relatives – if the person arrested so wishes. Providing advice and support to Swedes in emergency situations is a key task for our embassies.
We cannot intervene in another country's legal proceedings, but we can ensure that a trial is held in accordance with general principles of law. In our contact with the country in question, we can ask questions and point to shortcomings. In exceptional cases, when we have reason to believe that the trial is not proceeding as it should, we can ask to be present during a trial. This is of course more difficult with countries that do not uphold the rule of law and do not share our fundamental values. Another factor that sometimes complicates consular matters is dual citizenship. This can mean that Sweden does not gain access to, or information about, a Swede in an emergency situation.