Turkey, which is blocking Sweden and Finland’s accession to the military alliance, was angered by a series of demonstrations in Stockholm by activists who burned the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy and hung an effigy of Erdogan.
Turkey also postponed indefinitely an important meeting in Brussels that was to discuss the accession of the two northern countries to NATO.
Erdogan said in a speech to the deputies of his ruling party: “Sweden, do not exhaust yourselves! As long as you allow the burning and tearing of the Qur’an, and you do so in cooperation with your security forces, we will not say (yes) to your joining NATO.”
Swedish government officials distanced themselves from the protests, which included the burning of copies of the Koran by an anti-Islam far-right activist in Stockholm, Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark, while stressing that the demonstrations are protected by freedom of expression.
On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson denounced the activists who turned out at the demonstrations as “useful fools” of foreign powers who want to harm the Scandinavian country as it seeks to join NATO.
Christerson told reporters in the Swedish capital: “We saw how foreign actors and even parties from other countries took advantage of these demonstrations to ignite the situation in a way that directly harms Sweden’s security.”
Sweden and Finland had abandoned the principle of military non-alignment to join NATO after the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Only Turkey and Hungary are left from the NATO member states to agree to their accession.
On Wednesday morning, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara has fewer problems with Finland becoming a member of NATO than Sweden, but stressed that it is up to the military alliance to decide whether to accept only one country or the two northern countries together.
Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey’s view of Finland’s membership is “positive”.
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