LONDON (AA) – Stockholm University has apologized to a Turkish student whose internship application was rejected by a Swedish professor over the country’s pending NATO membership bid.
Fatma Zehra S., a third-year undergraduate studying psychology at Istanbul’s Ibn Haldun University, was accepted by the EU’s Erasmus+ program for a summer 2023 internship at a university of her choice.
One of the internships she applied for was at Sweden’s Stockholm University. On Nov. 23, 2022, Fatma sent an email to Per Carlbring, who leads a clinical psychology research group at the university, requesting to take part in a research project led by him.
Within a few hours, Carlbring replied: “I would love to host you. However, since Turkey does not allow Sweden to join NATO, I have to decline. Sorry!”
In a statement on Monday, the university acknowledged that “an employee expressed himself in an unprofessional and unacceptable manner.”
“As soon as we learnt about this issue we acted and handled it according to our routines,” the university said.
It added that Carlbring is “deeply regretful and realizes that he handled this issue incorrectly.”
“The university has also urgently apologized to the person and has already in December last year offered help in trying to find another internship at our university,” read the statement.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, abandoning decades of military non-alignment, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Unanimous agreement from all NATO members – including Türkiye, a member for more than 70 years – is needed for any new members to be admitted to the alliance.
Last June, Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland signed a memorandum designed to pave the way for the two Nordic countries’ NATO bids.
Türkiye has not rejected their bids, but says both countries have to live up to their pledges in the memorandum to take a firm stand against terrorism in order to gain membership, which it stresses they have not yet done.