Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, clarified on Wednesday, February 1 that Sweden won’t be welcomed into North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as long as the protests dishonoring Islam’s sacred book are allowed to take place.
A series of protests by activists in Stockholm that included burning and destroying the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy and hanging an effigy of Erdogan enraged Turkey, which has been holding off approving Sweden and Finland’s membership in the Western military alliance. A crucial meeting in Brussels that was scheduled to discuss the admission of the two Nordic nations to NATO has been postponed indefinitely.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the European Union, as well as another group it holds responsible for a failed coup attempt in 2016, are the targets of Ankara’s request that Helsinki and Stockholm specifically adopt a tougher stance against them.
The three countries came to an agreement regarding how to progress in Madrid last June, but Ankara halted negotiations last month as tensions increased following demonstrations in Stockholm when a far-right Danish politician set fire to a copy of the Quran.
Statements released by the authorities of Turkey and Sweden: –
In a speech to the lawmakers of his ruling party, Erdogan declared, “Sweden, save me the trouble! We will not say ‘yes’ to your entry into NATO as long as you accept my sacred book, the Quran, to be burned and shredded, and you do it in tandem with your security forces.”
In addition to stating that the protests are protected under the free speech rights, Swedish government authorities have distanced themselves from the demonstrations that were sparked by a far-right anti-Islam activist who burnt copies of the Quran in Stockholm and Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Foreign Minister of Sweden stated that there could be no compromise on the right to free expression but that Sweden would still uphold the Madrid Agreement.
“Meeting the standards that are there in the trilateral agreement is important for Sweden to become a member of NATO, and that is pretty apparent. “Religion is not part of the agreement,” he said.
Ulf Kristersson, the Prime Minister of Sweden, criticized the protesters on Tuesday, describing them as “useful idiots”, for foreign forces seeking to undermine the Nordic nation as it applies to join NATO.
Without naming any countries, 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 neighboring Finland abandoned decades of non-alignment and presented requests to join NATO. 30 NATO countries have approved their membership, with the exception of Turkey and Hungary, but unanimity is necessary for the two countries to join the alliance.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, stated earlier on Wednesday that Ankara has less objections to Finland joining NATO than to Sweden, Finland’s neighbour. He emphasized that the military alliance would determine whether to admit the Nordic pair jointly or just one nation, something to which both nations are committed.
Debate about joint or sole membership in NATO: –
During a joint press conference with his Estonian counterpart in Tallinn, Cavusoglu stated that should NATO decide to handle the membership applications of the Nordic neighbours separately, “Turkey will then of course reconsider ratifying Finland’s membership separately and more favourably, I can say.” He made no time estimate.
Erdogan reaffirmed in a speech to his AK Party deputies in Parliament by stating that Finland’s participation was “positive” in Turkey. He added, “But it should be acknowledged, that is not good for Sweden.
On Wednesday, Finland reiterated its stance that it would follow its Nordic neighbour’s lead.
In a statement, the joint presidential and government committee on Finnish security and foreign affairs stated that “Finland continues to pursue the membership process jointly with Sweden.”
Finland, Sweden, and the entire NATO are best served by the membership of both nations becoming effective as soon as possible, he continued.