“Don’t expect support for NATO candidacy,” Turkish president told Sweden

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Sweden should not expect Turkey’s support for its NATO membership after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm over the weekend, including the burning of a copy of the Koran, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. .

“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 following a cabinet meeting.

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

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

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

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but all 30 member states must approve their bids.

Turkey has previously said that 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.

Spokesperson for the US Department of State, Ned Price said Finland and Sweden were ready to join the alliance, but declined to comment on whether Washington thought Erdogan’s comments meant a definitive closing of the door for them.

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

Price told reporters that burning books that are sacred to many is a deeply disrespectful act, adding that the US is aware that those who may be behind what happened in Sweden may be intentionally trying to undermine unity across the Atlantic and among Washington’s European allies.

“We have a saying in this country – something can be nice but terrible. I think in this case what we saw in the context of 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 a number of demonstrations in the past where he has burned the Koran.

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

Turkey had already recalled Sweden’s ambassador and canceled a planned visit by the Swedish defense minister to Ankara.

Source: CNN Brasil

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