Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for NATO membership, Turkey’s powerful President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a government meeting in Istanbul on Monday night.
The burning of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on Saturday has had major political consequences and is causing a headache for both the Swedish government and NATO.
Erdogan said, according to Reuters, that if you love and protect members of terrorist organizations and enemies of Islam very much, then we advise you (rather) to obtain your support for the security of your country.
Radical right-wing Danish-Swedish politician Rasmus Paludan was behind the burning of the Quran. This led to major protests in both Sweden and Turkey. Outside the Swedish Consulate in Istanbul, angry protesters set fire to the Swedish flag.
The Turkish government described the burning of the Qur’an as a racist crime. Swedish politicians have condemned the burning of the Koran, but it doesn’t seem to have helped. From Turkey’s side, it is difficult to understand that the Swedish police would allow the burning of the Qur’an.
Erdogan also criticizes the Swedish authorities for allowing Kurdish groups to demonstrate with PKK flags.
– You allow terrorist organizations to break out of the cycle of chaos and at the same time expect support for NATO membership. It won’t happen, Erdogan says, per the AP news agency.
Turkey had previously canceled the visit that was scheduled to be paid by the Swedish Foreign Minister. Several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait, also condemned the embassy demonstration in Stockholm.
Relations with Sweden were strained when an effigy of President Erdogan was suspended from its legs outside Stockholm’s City Hall earlier this month. It was a Kurdish group behind it.
I will not comment on it
It is not clear whether Erdogan’s statement is a final rejection of Sweden, but it should be seen as a clear sign towards Sweden.
I cannot comment on tonight’s statement without understanding exactly what was said. But Sweden will honor the agreement between Sweden, Finland and Turkey regarding our membership in NATO, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström told Swedish media.
At a defense conference in Saline a short time ago, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson presented wide-ranging plans for what Sweden would contribute to NATO. Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters will patrol the Baltics and the Swedish army will provide soldiers to the countries of the East. After decades of Swedish neutrality, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has turned Swedish security policy on its head.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was also clear that he wanted Sweden and Finland to join the coalition. With Erdogan’s latest move making things more complicated, not to mention the Sweden crisis.
Turkey and Hungary are the only two countries that have not yet agreed to Sweden and Finland’s requests for NATO.
There is an agreement between Sweden and Turkey on the table that they agreed to this summer, but Turkey hesitated to sign.
Among other things, the Swedes opened the door to the resumption of arms exports. But the problem is that Turkey believes Sweden has largely been a haven for what it believes to be Kurdish terrorists and has sent Sweden a long list of people it wants extradited.
This applies, among other things, to former members of the Kurdish resistance movement, the PKK, who want a free Kurdistan, which is completely out of the question for Turkey. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey. Turkey wants to extradite the people involved in the 2016 coup attempt. It belongs to 130 people in total.
Turkish election campaign
Both NATO and the international community are accustomed to Turkey using its strategic location as a bargaining chip to highlight its interests. Several analysts indicated that Turkey would not agree to Sweden’s membership in NATO before the Turkish elections on May 14.
The reason is that Erdogan needs to show strength internationally to get the support he needs.
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