Erdogan: Sweden can't expect Nato bid support - Dispatch Weekly

January 24, 2023 - Reading time: 3 minutes

​Days after a Quran was set ablaze in a demonstration in Stockholm, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Sweden shouldn’t count on Turkey to support its Nato membership bid.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden submitted an application to join NATO. However, Turkey, a current member, must approve.

This month, Kurdish protestors in Sweden burned the Quran after hanging an effigy of Mr. Erdogan.

Sweden shouldn’t count on our support for NATO, in return, warned Erdogan.

It is obvious that individuals who produced such a scandal in front of the embassy of our nation can no longer count on any consideration from us for their application.

Swedish authorities had already given their consent for the protest on Saturday, but not for the actual burning of the book.

Erdogan referred to the most recent demonstration, which was led by a far-right leader from a Danish party, as blasphemy that should not be protected by the First Amendment.

The demonstration was also criticised by the Swedish government.

According to Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, “Sweden enjoys a broad freedom of expression, but that does not indicate that the Swedish government or I agree with the viewpoints voiced.”

In response to Mr. Erdogan’s comments, Mr. Billstrom stated that he wanted to fully comprehend what the Turkish president had said before making any comments.

In relation to our participation in NATO, “Sweden will respect the agreement that exists between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey,” he continued.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO, but the recent protests have heightened tensions.

The secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, stated that while these activities were improper, they were not “automatically criminal” and that freedom of expression was a “valuable treasure” in Nato countries.

Turkey, a country with a large Muslim population, criticised the Swedish government’s decision to permit the protest as being “totally unacceptable.”

In his Monday night broadcast speech, Mr. Erdogan declared that “no one has the right to humiliate the saints.”

“We speak the truth when we speak, and when someone defies us, we put them in their place.”

The Swedish ambassador Pal Jonson’s visit to Turkey was cancelled, according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, since “no steps were taken over the… despicable protests.”

Sweden’s top ministers had already made a flurry of trips to Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, which gave rise to hopes that this trip may allay opposition to Sweden’s admission.

Turkey may prevent another country from​​ joining Nato because it is already a member, and it has already placed various demands on Sweden. This includes the extradition of some Kurds who are allegedly “terrorists,” according to Turkey.

The Turkish president’s effigy was hanging from a lamppost in Stockholm by Kurdish protestors earlier this month, according to the Swedish prime minister, who claimed they were attempting to sabotage Sweden’s Nato application.

The action was described as “deplorable” by a Swedish minister, but Turkey felt that wasn’t enough.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.