On the occasion of Turkish President Abdullah Gül's state visit to Sweden, the Swedish Union of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) are criticising that the Swedish government is engaging in a strategic cooperation with Turkey.
"Last year Turkey had more journalists in jail than any other country in the world. If Sweden and Turkey are to engage in a strategic cooperation I expect the Swedish government to demand from the Turkish to act on matters of press freedom and justice," says Jonas Nordling, President of the Swedish Union of Journalists.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gül and his delegation are on a state visit to Sweden from 11 to 13 March. During the visit foreign minister Carl Bildt and the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu will sign a declaration on strategic cooperation.
"Journalists in Turkey are being imprisoned for doing their job, to critically scrutinize the actions of the Turkish government. They are being labelled as terrorists by a government who wants to silence other Turkish journalists through fear," says EFJ President Arne König.
The Swedish Union of Journalists last November sent a letter to the Turkish ambassador in Sweden calling on Turkey to stop the imprisonment of journalists, and to reform the laws of the country to better protect the rights of journalists. Many EFJ affiliates sent similar letters to Turkish embassies in their countries.
Not only journalists are being harassed and imprisoned in Turkey, but also many union representatives. In protest against these measures, the Swedish white collar trade union federation TCO will send a delegation to Turkey in April, led by TCO president Eva Nordmark. The Swedish Union of Journalists will be represented by Arne König.
The three Swedish trade union federations, TCO, LO and SACO, have put forward together in an article in the paper Aftonbladet on 11 March their demands relating to the Turkish visit. The article - Sverige måste stå upp för fackliga rättigheter ("Sweden must stand up for union rights") - urges the Swedish government to clearly speak out against violation of human rights. It also demands of Turkey to end the practice of imprisoning union leaders because of their union activities.