Turkish President Erdogan is opposed to Finland and Sweden's inclusion to NATO because of their alleged support of the PKK. He said Scandinavian countries are "guesthouses for terrorist organisations" and "are even members of the parliament in some countries".

Do groups with Kurdish influence have presence in Scandinavian parliaments? Do they support these groups exceptionally?

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    It's not only the PKK; a day later the FM mentioned the YPG. Which I'm guessing is a more realistic complaint. Turkey typically makes no distinction between these two in their positions, considering them the same organization, although even the US dealt with the YPG, so... Commented May 14, 2022 at 21:31
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    It seems that Turkey hardened its stance. I wonder why, given apparently previously they were ok with Sweden and Finland membership Commented May 16, 2022 at 17:53
  • @PiotrGolacki: Their dictator is probably just throwing another temper tantrum.
    – Vikki
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 3:04

3 Answers 3


Several points come together.

  • The Kurds are a distinct ethnic group without their own nation-state. By the standards which "the West" applied during the breakup of Austria-Hungary or the breakup of Yugoslavia, they might have deserved one, but one century ago "the West" was not in the habit of applying those rules in the Middle East.
  • "The West" generally accepts the right of Kurds to express their ethnic identity and to peacefully lobby for a Kurdish nation. It does not accept terrorist acts.
  • Over several decades, Turkey has fought a counterinsurgency in their Kurdish areas. Turkey is much more likely than "the West" to conflate a Kurdish identity, support for the political cause, and support for terrorist acts.
  • "The West" has given political asylum to many ethnic Kurds who claim political persecution by the Turkish state. Some ethnic Kurds are Western citizens and have been elected to parliaments.

So on the one hand, the label "terrorist" has been debased over the last decades. It is about as meaningful as Americans using the term "socialist" or Russians using "fascist." It simply translates as "people we don't like."

On the other hand, there is the habit of being more tolerant of free speech when it isn't the own country that's threatened by secession. Compare the different reactions to the Catalan independence movement in various parts of Europe.

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    "The West" has given political asylum to many ethnic Kurds who claim political persecution by the Turkish state. - do (some of) these Kurds support PKK, which is a terrorist organization according to both EU and USA? Are some of them members of PKK?
    – user31264
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 11:55
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    Very likely there are some Kurds who "support the PKK" but are not terrorists. Just as there are plenty of Irish people who supported the IRA/Sinn Fein but were not terrorists. And so there are probably plenty of legitimate refugees while still supporting the terrorist organisation the PKK. There are even more who support the goals of the PKK, but do not support the PKK itself. They too might be victims of political persecution.
    – James K
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 12:43
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    @user31264, as James K pointed out, supporting the same political cause as some terrorist does not make one a terrorist. There are people in the EU who are sentenced to prison for PKK membership, but the EU applies different definitions of support or membership than Turkey.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 13:57
  • I'd of course note that there are dozens if not hundreds of ethnic groups without their own state. The Kurds just happen to have good PR in the West. Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 18:26

It is worth noting that Erdogan has suppressed oppostion from political parties with Kurdish support (e.g HDP) who oppose violence. Apparently party members have been detained in large numbers "20,000 HDP members taken into custody in 4 years".

Erdogan consistently portrays his opponents as terrorists while preventing peaceful opposition.


Here are a few points to represent the view or Erdogan (to complement the other answers):

Scandinavian left wing helped arm the Kurds in Rojava (Northern Syria) to fight ISIS. Turkey would have preferred they didn't receive arms. (Fearing they would cross the border)

From Denmark the biggest Kurdish TV station broadcasted for many years (ROJ TV). Turkey considered them linked to PKK, but Danish authorities that investigated them did not agree. (until 2013 where they actually did get convicted for supporting PKK).

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    Not just Scandinavia. Much of NATO armed the Kurds against both Assad and ISIS, to the strong unease of Turkey.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 16, 2022 at 4:21
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    Well, Denmark is not Sweden. Any evidence Sweden sent arms to Rojava? Because they claim to have broken the tradition of not sending arms to conflict zones by helping Ukraine thedefensepost.com/2022/02/28/sweden-arms-ukraine Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 9:47

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