Home » Erdogan tells Sweden not to expect Nato bid support

Erdogan tells Sweden not to expect Nato bid support

by Mahmmod Shar

By Mattea Bubalo

Sweden should not expect Turkey to back its Nato membership bid, Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, days after a copy of the Quran was burned in a Stockholm protest.

Sweden applied to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine – but needs Turkey, already a member, to approve.

Kurdish protesters in Sweden hung an effigy of Mr Erdogan this month, followed by the Quran burning.

“Sweden should not expect support from us for Nato,” Erdogan said in response.

“It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country’s embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application.”

Saturday’s protest – but not the burning of the book itself – was given prior approval by Swedish authorities.

Erdogan condemned the latest protest, carried out by a far-right politician from a Danish party, as blasphemy not to be defended by free speech.

The Swedish governments also criticised the protest.

“Sweden has a far-reaching freedom of expression, but it does not imply that the Swedish government, or myself, support the opinions expressed,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Saturday.

Responding to Mr Erdogan’s remarks on Monday, Mr Billstrom said that he wanted to understand exactly what the Turkish leader said before commenting.

“Sweden will respect the agreement that exists between Sweden, Finland and Turkey regarding our Nato membership,” he added.

Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine, but the recent protests have heightened tensions.

Nato’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that freedom of expression was a “precious commodity” in Nato countries, and that these acts, while inappropriate, were not “automatically illegal”.

Turkey, a majority Muslim country, denounced the Swedish government’s decision to allow the protest as “completely unacceptable”.

“No one has the right to humiliate the saints,” said Mr Erdogan in his televised remarks on Monday.

“When we say something, we say it honestly, and when someone dishonours us, we put them in their place.”

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The Swedish ambassador Pal Jonson’s visit to Turkey was canceled, according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, because “no measures were taken over the… disgusting protests.”

Sweden’s top ministers had previously made a flurry of trips to Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, which gave rise to hopes that this trip might allay opposition to Sweden’s accession.

Turkey can prevent another country from joining Nato because it is already a member, and it has already placed several demands on Sweden. This includes the extradition of some Kurds who are allegedly terrorists, according to it.

The Turkish president’s effigy was hung from a lamppost in Stockholm by Kurdish protesters earlier this month, according to the Swedish prime minister, who claimed they were attempting to sabotage Sweden’s Nato application.

The stunt was described as “deplorable” by a Swedish minister, but Turkey said that wasn’t enough.

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