Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raises his voice: Sweden should not expect Turkey to support Sweden's application to NATO after the weekend's quran burning outside the Turkish Embassy.

"That move, even if it's political, should be taken seriously," says Turkey's expert Paul Levin.

"Before Christmas, the tone from the Turkish side was more conciliatory โ€“ unlike now," says Turkey expert Paul Levin. The picture shows Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (M) and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in connection with a visit to Ankara in November.

"Above all, this is bad news for the Swedish government," says Paul Levin, Director of the Institute for Turkey Studies at Stockholm University. Nevertheless, he points out that the President's wording is somewhat unclear โ€“ it is not necessarily a final no.

"However, the tone has not been this hard before," says Levin.

"Before Christmas it was still more atoning," although it was said that Sweden did not get far enough. This was not atoning at all.

New conditions

The President also imposes new requirements and conditions on Sweden โ€“ requirements that go beyond what was agreed in the trilateral agreement between Sweden, Finland and Turkey last June, according to Levin.

Erdogan's announcement comes after the right-wing provocationist Rasmus Paludan burned a quran near Turkey's Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday. At the same time, a demonstration campaign was held in protest against Erdogan and the Swedish NATO accession โ€“ arranged by the Kurdish Democratic Society Center.

"You allow terrorist organizations to run amok and then expect support to enter NATO. That won't happen," says Erdogan on Monday, according to the news agency AP.

Erdogan says that if Sweden does not show respect for Turkey and Muslims, there will be no support from Turkey on the NATO issue โ€“ while the agreement between the countries is mainly about terror issues, according to Levin.

Election campaign?

This weekend's demonstrations have sparked widespread anger in Turkey and relatively large counter-demonstrations have been organized, including in the city of Batman in the south-east of the country.

Levin says the Swedish demonstrations may play into the hands of the Turkish president for that very reason. On Sunday, Erdogan confirmed that general elections will be held on May 14 - a month earlier than planned.

"He can certainly make use of this in his election campaign which is now taking off seriously."

Sweden can't do anything

TT: How long can Erdogan benefit from the Swedish demonstrations?

"If this is part of an election campaign, it has a lifetime until the election in May. It also depends on who can win the election and whether we can become friends again afterwards," says Levin and continues:

"I don't think we're going to see Turkish ratification before the elections, and I think we can forget that."

Nor is there much to be done for the Swedish government, since Sweden has a very liberal freedom of expression legislation, says Levin.

"Most of the things you can do is to say that you do not support the demonstrations even though the police give permission. But you have already done that and it was obviously not enough."