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 backing Sweden needs to gain entry to the military alliance
A participant jumps onto a banner with a portrait of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a demonstration organised by The Kurdish Democratic Society Center against him and Sweden’s NATO bid in Stockholm on January 21. Sweden needs Turkey’s consent to join NATO. Ankara views Kurdish groups as “terrorist.” Pic/AFP
Sweden should not expect Turkey’s support for its NATO membership after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm at the weekend including the burning of a copy of the Koran, President Tayyip Erdogan 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 backing Sweden needs to gain entry to the military alliance. “Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership,” Erdogan said in a speech after a Cabinet meeting. “If you love members of terrorist organisations and enemies of Islam so much and protect them, then we advise you to seek their support for your countries’ security,” he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom declined to immediately comment on Erdogan’s remarks, telling Reuters 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 last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but all 30 member states must approve their bids. Ankara has previously said Sweden in particular must first take a clearer stance against what it sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
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