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Erdogan Warns Sweden On NATO Following Quran Burning

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After the burning of the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden not to expect his support for joining NATO.

Erdogan’s enraged remarks removed Sweden and Finland from joining the Western defence alliance before Turkey’s presidential and legislative elections in May.

Turkey and Hungary are the only two NATO members that haven’t ratified the Nordic neighbours’ historic decision to break their tradition of not having a military alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, has said that the two bids will be approved by parliament next month.

Erdogan, on the other hand, has dug in his heels as a close election approaches and he tries to rally his nationalist voters.

“Sweden should not anticipate NATO support from us,” Erdogan said in his first official response to an anti-Islam politician’s act during a protest on Saturday that was permitted by Swedish authorities over Turkey’s concerns.

“Those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country’s consulate can no longer anticipate any benevolence from us regarding their NATO membership application,” Erdogan added.

Sweden reacted to Erdogan’s words with utmost caution.

“I can’t say anything about the statement right now. “First, I want to know exactly what was said,” Tobias Billstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, told the TT news agency.

“No one has the right to disrespect the saints.”

– Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
After an hour-long rant against Islam and immigration, far-right politician Rasmus Paludan burned a Quran. (Image by: Andreas Bardell)

Visits were cancelled

Swedish leaders strongly criticised what far-right politician Rasmus Paludan did, but they defended their country’s broad definition of free speech.

“I feel sorry for all Muslims who were offended by what happened in Stockholm today,” Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson tweeted on Saturday.

Erdogan has already set a number of tough conditions, such as asking Sweden to send back dozens of mostly Kurdish people who Ankara accuses of “terrorism” or of being involved in a failed coup in 2016.

Sweden seemed to be making progress in its courtship of Turkey with a flurry of visits by top ministers to Ankara.

Stockholm has also changed its constitution to make it possible to pass the stricter anti-terrorism laws that Ankara wants.

But things went wrong earlier this month when a small group of Kurds hung an effigy of Erdogan outside Stockholm’s city hall.

Turkey summoned Sweden’s ambassador and revoked an invitation to its parliament speaker to visit Ankara.

The Swedish police decision to allow Paludan’s protests elicited a similar reaction.

The visit of Sweden’s defence minister was cancelled, and Turkey recalled the ambassador to Stockholm for another reprimand.

Erdogan said that burning the Muslim holy book was a hate crime that could not be defended by free speech.

“No one has the right to disrespect the saints,” he remarked on national television.

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

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg slammed Erdogan’s stance on Sweden.

He stated that “freedom of expression and freedom of opinion is a priceless commodity, in Sweden and in all other NATO countries,” in an interview with the German publication Die Welt. Therefore, these incorrect activities are not automatically illegal.”

Stoltenberg, who last spring talked about a fast-track membership process that would only take a few weeks, said in the interview that the Swedish government had “very clearly” condemned the protest.

Info source – The Sun Daily

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