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Turkiye President rules out backing Sweden joining NATO unless it ends attacks on Quran

February 1, 2023 at 4:59 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hand with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (L) during a press conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara [ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images]

Turkiye rules out green lighting Sweden joining NATO as long as it permits attacks on Islam’s holy book, the Quran, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

“We will not say yes to (Sweden’s) entry into NATO as long as you allow our holy book, the Quran, to be burned, torn apart, and to be done with (the approval of) your security personnel,” Erdogan said, referring to the recent burning of a Quran in Stockholm, the capital, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“We closely follow developments regarding NATO’s enlargement process. Our view on Finland is positive, but not on Sweden,” he said, signalling a willingness to support Finland’s NATO bid separately from Sweden’s.

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His remarks came after Danish-Swedish extremist, Rasmus Paludan, last week burned copies of the Quran on two separate occasions, first outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm and then, later, in front of a mosque in Denmark. Paludan also said he would burn the Muslim holy book every Friday until Sweden is admitted to the NATO alliance.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which started on 24 February, 2022.

Under a memorandum signed last June between Turkiye, Sweden and Finland, the two Nordic countries pledged to take steps against terrorists to gain membership in the NATO alliance.

In the agreement, Sweden and Finland agreed not to provide support to terrorist groups, such as the PKK and its offshoots, and the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), and to extradite terror suspects to Turkiye, among other steps.

Unanimous agreement from all NATO members – including Turkiye, a member for more than 70 years – is needed for any new members to be admitted to the alliance.

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