Erdogan to Sweden: Don't expect Turkish support for NATO bid after Stockholm protest

Erdogan to Sweden: Don't expect Turkish support for NATO bid after Stockholm protest
2 min read
Turkey's president has said he will not support Sweden's bid to join NATO after an Islamophobic protest in Stockholm.
Erdogan said he will not support Sweden with their NATO bid [Getty/archive]

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 Quran, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Protests in Stockholm on Saturday against Turkey and against Sweden's bid to join NATO, during which a copy of the Quran was burned, 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 (in Stockholm) 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.

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

Several Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait denounced the incident.

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.

Turkey had already summoned Sweden's ambassador about the incident, cancelled a planned visit by Swedish defence minister to Ankara and strongly condemned the event.

(Reuters)