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Ankara blames Stockholm for setbacks in accession of Sweden, Finland to NATO

On January 21, Danish politician Rasmus Paludan, who leads the anti-Islamic far-right extremist Hard Line party, burned a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy during a protest rally

ANKARA, January 25. /TASS/. The accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO has hit a snag and Stockholm is to blame for that, Omer Celik, a spokesman for the Justice and Development Party chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Wednesday.

"We didn’t want the trilateral mechanism to come to this. It was them who prompted this. What we have at the negotiating table isn’t progress, but regress. Sweden has brought this upon itself as it has failed to deliver on any of its promises. In this context, it makes no sense to hold a trilateral meeting," he said in an interview with CNN Turk television.

It was reported on Tuesday that negotiations between Ankara, Stockholm and Helsinki on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, which were scheduled for February, were postponed indefinitely.

On January 21, Danish politician Rasmus Paludan, who leads the anti-Islamic far-right extremist Hard Line party, burned a Quran in front of the Turkish embassy during a protest rally. He criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and displayed a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad. On Monday, Erdogan said that Sweden should not expect any support from Ankara for its NATO membership bid following anti-Turkish rallies in Stockholm. Earlier, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made similar statements.

In May 2022, Helsinki and Stockholm submitted their applications to join the US-led military bloc but the process was blocked by Turkey who demanded that the two countries designate Kurdish organizations as terrorist groups and extradite to Ankara the people suspected of terrorism and being involved in the 2016 coup. Talks between Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, then Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg took place in Madrid on June 28, 2022. As a result, a memorandum was signed making it possible for Sweden and Finland to join NATO.

Earlier, Ankara said that this memorandum was not final and the Turkish parliament might not approve it if the two countries do not fulfill their obligations to counter terrorist organizations.

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