Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, repeated on Wednesday that Sweden wouldn’t be allowed to join NATO as long as protests desecrating Islam’s sacred book are permitted.
A series of protests by activists in Stockholm that included burning the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy and hanging an effigy of Erdogan enraged Turkey, which has been delaying sanctioning Sweden and Finland’s participation in the Western military alliance.
A crucial meeting in Brussels that was scheduled to discuss the accession of the two Nordic nations to NATO has been postponed indefinitely.
Don’t even bother, Sweden! We won’t say “yes” to your entry into NATO as long as you allow my sacred book, the Quran, to be burned and ripped, and you do it alongside your security forces, Erdogan declared in a speech to the lawmakers of his ruling party.
Swedish government representatives have stressed that the demonstrations are protected under freedom of speech while also distancing themselves from the rallies, which included those led by a far-right anti-Islam activist who burnt copies of the Quran in Stockholm and Copenhagen, Denmark.
Ulf Kristersson, the prime minister of Sweden, criticized the protesters on Tuesday, calling them “useful idiots” for foreign forces seeking to undermine the Nordic nation as it applies to join NATO.
Without mentioning any nations, Kristersson told reporters in Stockholm, “We have seen how foreign actors, even state actors, have used these manifestations to inflame the situation in a way that is directly adverse to Swedish security.”
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden, and its neighbor Finland ended decades of non-alignment and submitted applications to join NATO.
All NATO countries have approved their membership, except Turkey and Hungary, but unanimity is needed.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, stated on Wednesday that Ankara has fewer objections to Finland joining NATO than Sweden,
He emphasized, however, that the military alliance would determine whether to accept the Nordic pair jointly or just one of the nations, something to which both nations are committed.
During a joint press conference with his Estonian counterpart in Tallinn, Cavusoglu stated that should NATO decide to handle the membership processes of the Nordic neighbors independently, “(Turkey) will then, of course, reconsider (ratifying) Finland’s membership separately and more favorably.”
He made no time estimate.
Erdogan reaffirmed that Finland’s participation was “good” in Turkey.
Erdogan remarked, “But that should be acknowledged, that is not good for Sweden.