Erdogan on Sweden Dont expect Turkish support for NATO bid

Erdogan on Sweden: Don’t expect Turkish support for NATO bid after Stockholm protests – Portal

ANKARA, Jan 23 (Portal) – Sweden should not count on Turkey’s support for its NATO membership after a protest near Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm over the weekend, including the burning of a copy of the Koran, President Tayyip Erdogan has said on Monday.

Protests in Stockholm on Saturday against Turkey and against Sweden’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have heightened tensions with Turkey, whose support Sweden needs to join the military alliance.

“Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer count on our support for their NATO membership,” Erdogan said in a speech after a cabinet meeting.

“If you love and protect members of terrorist organizations and enemies of Islam so much, then we advise you to seek their support for the security of your country,” he said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom declined to comment immediately on Erdogan’s remarks, telling Portal in a written statement he wanted to understand exactly what had been said.

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

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but all 30 member states must approve their applications. Ankara has previously said that Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance on what it sees as terrorists, mostly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Finland and Sweden are ready to join the alliance, but declined to comment on whether Washington believed Erdogan’s comments meant a final closing of the door on them.

“Ultimately, this is a decision and consensus that Finland and Sweden must reach with Turkey,” Price said.

Price told reporters that the burning of books sacred to many is a deeply disrespectful act, adding that the United States is aware that those who may be behind the events in Sweden may intentionally attempt to destroy the to weaken unity across the Atlantic and among Washington’s European allies.

“We have a saying in this country – something can be legal but terrible. I think in this case what we’ve seen in relation to Sweden falls into that category,” Price said.

The Koran burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line. Paludan, who also has Swedish citizenship, has held several demonstrations in the past where he burned the Koran.

Several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait condemned the event. Turkey had already summoned the Swedish ambassador and canceled a planned visit by the Swedish defense minister to Ankara.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Huseyin Hayatsever; Additional reporting by Niklas Pollard in Stockholm and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Edited by Hugh Lawson and Grant McCool

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