After rally in Stockholm, don’t anticipate Turkish support for NATO bid
In light of the weekend protest that saw a copy of the Koran burned close to the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Sweden shouldn’t rely on Turkey’s support for its membership in NATO.
As a result of protests held in Stockholm on Saturday against Turkey and Sweden’s application to join NATO, tensions with Turkey, whose backing Sweden needs to join the military alliance, have risen.
Following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan declared in a speech that countries that allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer rely on our support for their NATO membership.
If you love members of terrorist organisations and opponents of Islam so much that you protect them, we advise you to ask for their support for the security of your countries, he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom told Reuters in a written statement that he would hold off on commenting on Erdogan’s remarks until he had properly comprehended them.
But he continued, “Sweden will respect the understanding that exists concerning our NATO membership between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland last year submitted applications to join NATO. However, their petitions must be approved by each of the 30 member states. Ankara has repeatedly asked that Sweden in particular take a more assertive posture before acting against what it considers terrorists, principally Kurdish militants, and a group it holds accountable for a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.
Finland and Sweden are willing to join the alliance, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price, but he would not specify whether Washington considered Erdogan’s comments to be a categorical rejection of their membership.
Price told reporters that burning books that are sacred to many people is a deeply disrespectful act, adding that the United States is aware that those who may be responsible for what occurred in Sweden may be purposefully attempting to weaken unity across the Atlantic and among Washington’s European allies.
There is a phrase in my country that states that something can be legal but unpleasant. I think what we’ve seen in relation to Sweden fits that description in this case, Price added.
The Koran was burned by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line. The Koran has been burned by Paludan, a Swedish citizen, during a number of protests in the past.