ANKARA, February 1. /TASS/. Speaking to a parliamentary session of his ruling Justice and Development Party‘s faction on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on his admonishment of Sweden, warning that he would dash Stockholm’s NATO hopes, while asserting that Finland’s admission to the North Atlantic alliance could be resolved positively.
"Sweden should not waste time. As long as you allow burning our holy book, the Quran, tearing it up and your law-enforcement agencies stay by idly in this situation, we will not say ‘yes’ to your entry to NATO. Meanwhile, we have a positive attitude to Finland on this issue," Erdogan stated.
Relations between Turkey and Sweden have soured after a copy of the Quran was burnt in front of the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm on January 21. Ankara has said that it would not approve the Kingdom of Sweden’s NATO membership bid until it honors its commitments under the memorandum on countering terrorism signed with Turkey.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO on May 18, 2022, but Turkey immediately blocked their bids to get into the US-led bloc, demanding that the Nordic countries declare Kurdish organizations as terror groups and extradite individuals accused of terrorism or complicity in the 2016 failed coup attempt in the country.
On June 28, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, then-Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Madrid prior to a NATO summit. The parties inked a memorandum, paving the way for Stockholm and Helsinki to join the military alliance.
Ankara earlier said that the memorandum signed with Helsinki and Stockholm was not final and the Turkish legislature might not approve it, unless the Nordic states honored the memorandum-stipulated commitments to counter terrorist groups.