According to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet the Turkish government has not demanded an apology from the Danish government for the twelve Muhammad drawings which were published in a Danish paper last September.
The Turkish ambassador to Copenhagen was one of the eleven ambassadors from Islamic countries who demanded to see the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen last October to ask the latter to condemn the Muhammad cartoons and guarantee that similar drawings would no longer be published in Denmark. Mr Rasmussen refused to meet the ambassadors about this topic because Denmark has freedom of the press.
Yesterday the Danish press reported that Namik Tan, the spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, demanded an apology from Denmark, making it quite clear that Turkey would not mediate in the cartoon crisis if Copenhagen did not apologize first. In the Hurriyet article, however, Mr Tan denies ever saying this to the Danish press. He stresses that everyone should already know Turkey would not demand an apology. The article also quotes Mr Rasmussen as saying there is no Turkish government demand for apologies from his government.
Neither Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, or Abdullah Gül, the Foreign Minister, have been quoted as personally demanding any sort of apology. Mr Rasmussen confirmed in the Danish media that there is no Turkish demand for apologies. Per Stig Møller, The Danish minister of Foreign Affairs, will discuss the cartoon affair with Mr Gül at an EU meeting next month. “Turkey will, as an applicant country, be present at the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers on March 11 and 12. In connection with that I have proposed to the Turkish Foreign Minister that he raise the matter there.” Mr Møller said.
Meanwhile in Finland the editor of the cultural magazine Kaltio was fired yesterday after publishing a cartoon of a masked prophet Muhammad (see it here). The cartoon was drawn by Ville Ranta, a young Finnish cartoonist, whose aim was to lampoon the Finnish president, prime minister and foreign minister for their cowardice during the cartoon crisis. The prophet was masked, because, as the cartoonist said, “I do not wish to incriminate myself by drawing Mohammed’s face.”
Apparently the reason for sacking the editor, Mr Jussi Vilkuna, was that some of Finland’s large financial institutions withdrew their advertisements from Kaltio. Olavi Nieminen, the chief lawyer of Pohjola, a non-life insurance firm owned by OKO Bank, said the posting of the cartoon were irresponsible and a wrong way to defend free speech.
Finland has had a tradition of neutrality since the 1940s and apparently wishes to continue this tradition of “Finlandization.” The Finns’ neutrality was not voluntary, but was the consequence of the appeasement by a small country towards an aggressive, dangerous neighbour (the Soviet Union).
In Switzerland Paul Polman, the financial director of Nestlé, told the Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad yesterday that Nestlé regrets running an ad earlier this month in a Saudi newspaper in which the company stressed that it is Swiss and not Danish. “We are very sorry about this,” Mr Polman said. “This should not have happened.” The ad was published earlier this month on the front page of Asharqal-Awsat. In the ad Nestlé said it does not use milk powder from Denmark.
“The decision to run the ad had been taken by our local management. They had done so without consulting us,” Mr Polman, a Dutch national, said. The local management wanted to contradict reports in the Saudi press that Nestlé was a Danish company. “It is our right to inform consumers, but it was not a good idea to do it this way. In similar cases in future we will do nothing, or will do something entirely different – something positive.”