March 16 2010

Following an increase in tension due to a Swedish parliamentary
resolution on Armenian "genocide" claims, the Scandinavian country's
prime minister urged Turkey on Tuesday to prevent any deterioration
in relations.

The Swedish Parliament, or Riksdag, approved last week, by a margin
of one vote (131-130), a motion that called on the government to
recognize the events of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. In
protest, Ankara recalled its ambassador to Stockholm and cancelled
the Turkish prime minister's planned visit to Sweden.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt phoned his Turkish counterpart
Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday to again express his regrets in an
effort to repair the bilateral ties.

"It [the Riksdag's decision] paves the way for a politicization of
historical events... This could be used by forces in Turkey that are
trying to put a stop to the process of reconciliation with Armenia
and the process of reform in Turkey," Reinfeldt said in a statement
released Tuesday.

Drawing attention to the ongoing accession talks with the European
Union, Reinfeldt said the reform process in Turkey bodes well for
the country's possible future EU membership. "It is a process that
takes time and must be allowed to do so," he said.

"The people of Sweden have a positive view of Turkey. The many Turks
who live and work here have played an important role in the development
of our society," Reinfeldt added.

The Swedish prime minister urged an ease to tensions, saying: "I hope
that these valuable contacts between people will help us get over what
has now happened. What is important now is that we are able to prevent
any deterioration in the extraordinarily good relations between our
countries, by continuing our open and constructive dialogue."

Reinfeldt concluded his statement by vowing to "act energetically to
advance Turkey's EU process."