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Turkey Issues Travel Warning to Europe 01/29 09:33


   ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkey issued a travel warning late Saturday for its 
citizens living in or planning on going to European countries, citing 
Islamophobia and anti-Turkish demonstrations.

   The warning comes after last weekend's protests in Sweden where an 
anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against 

   The Turkish foreign ministry urged its citizens to take precautions and stay 
away from demonstration areas. It also said they should go to local authorities 
if they face xenophobic or racist attacks.

   Turkey strongly condemned far-right activist Rasmus Paludan's burning of the 
Quran in Stockholm, which he repeated in Copenhagen Friday. Ankara also 
summoned the Dutch ambassador after another far-right activist tore pages of 
the Quran in the Hague.

   The Turkish government also said there was an increase in anti-Turkish 
protests by "groups with links to terror groups" -- a reference to the 
Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency 
against Turkey. Pro-Kurdish groups have been demonstrating in Sweden, waving 
the flags of the PKK and its affiliates. The protests are a response to Sweden 
and Finland's promise to prevent the PKK's activities in their countries in 
order to gain Turkey's approval for their NATO bids.

   Following the protests, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden 
not to expect support for its membership bid for the military alliance. Turkey 
also indefinitely postponed a key meeting in Brussels that would have discussed 
Sweden and Finland's NATO membership.

   Earlier Saturday, before Turkey had issued its travel warning, the Nordic 
countries separately issued updated travel guidelines for Turkey. Denmark, 
Finland, Norway and Sweden urged their citizens visiting Turkey to avoid large 
gatherings and to exercise caution.

   The Swedish Foreign Ministry said in a message on its website that Sweden's 
embassy in Ankara remains closed to the public and visitors to the country's 
consulate general in Istanbul are "requested to exercise vigilance."

   "We want to make Swedes in Turkey aware that further manifestations may 
occur," the Swedish ministry said, referring to counter-protests that erupted 
in Turkey after last weekend's events in Stockholm.

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