ANKARA, January 23. /TASS/. Stockholm and Helsinki reject Ankara's counterterrorism demands, while expecting it to help ensure their security, Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday.
"They [Sweden and Finland] want cooperation with NATO in protecting their states, while we also want assistance from them in fighting terrorism. They ask us for support to ensure their security, but they reject our demands in the area of counterterrorism," the Haberturk TV channel quoted the minister as saying.
Akar said the inaction of Sweden as well as Finland regarding incidents of attacks on the Quran and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was unacceptable. "We see vile, shameful acts committed there against our president, the Quran, our flag, our sacred values. And we cannot accept their inaction and silence regarding such things. Our position is quite clear. We expect them to put an end to this and to honor their commitments to us," the minister stressed.
The Turkish defense chief added that he expected "Finland and Sweden to demonstrate the strength and power of their states and fulfill their obligations." "If this is done, there will be no problem on our part," he stressed, referring to the situation surrounding the applications of Stockholm and Helsinki to join NATO, which Ankara has not yet approved.
Turkish authorities expressed strong protest against the burning of a copy of the Quran in Stockholm last Saturday, calling the action "racist" and "modern barbarism". Numan Kurtulmus, deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party, warned that Turkey would not approve Sweden's application to join NATO until it had complied with the memorandum on action against terrorism signed with Ankara.
On January 11, a rally was held in Stockholm in support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, deemed as terrorist in Turkey. During the rally, its participants staged the hanging of an effigy of Erdogan. The incident and Sweden's refusal to search for those involved in the scandalous event also triggered a harsh reaction from Ankara.