Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that Sweden should not expect Turkey to support the Swedish application to NATO, writes AP news agency.

"Erdogan says that's not gonna happen."

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Archive image.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Archive image.

The statement comes after the right-wing provocative Rasmus Paludan burned a quran near Turkey's Embassy in Stockholm on Saturday.

Erdogan calls the quran burning an insult to everyone, not least Muslims. He also criticizes Swedish authorities for allowing Kurdish groups to demonstrate with PKK flags.

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

Don't comment now

If Sweden does not show respect for Turkey and Muslims, there will be "no support from us on the NATO issue."

Foreign Minister Tobias Billström (M) says in a written statement to TT that he does not want to comment on Mr Erdogan's words.

"I cannot comment on the statement this evening but would like to understand exactly what has been said. However, Sweden will respect the agreement that exists between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey on our NATO membership," writes Billström.

Protests in several countries

Erdogan singles out the quran burning as a hate crime that should not be protected by freedom of speech.

"Those who allowed such a shame outside our embassy can no longer expect any goodwill from us," says the Turkish President, according to AP.

Several Muslim countries, including Turkey, have protested that Rasmus Paludan was granted permission for his quran burning.

Demonstrations have been organized against Sweden outside the Swedish Consulate General in Turkish Istanbul and outside the Embassy in Iraqi Baghdad.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (M) has condemned the quran burning and branded it as "deeply disrespectful." At the same time, he has pointed out that freedom of expression is a "fundamental part of democracy".

Hanged a doll

Turkey, together with Hungary, is the only NATO country that has not yet ratified Sweden's and Finland's application for the Defense Alliance. Sweden's and Finland's agreements with Turkey contain a number of points to be fulfilled before Turkey will approve Swedish and Finnish membership.

While the tone from Turkey has hardened, Hungary has signaled that it is in favor of Sweden and Finland in NATO. An approval is expected in the Hungarian Parliament this spring.

Canceled meetings

Several recent events in Sweden have aroused anger in Turkey. Among other things, a doll representing President Erdogan was hung by its feet outside Stockholm City Hall earlier in January. The event led to a planned visit by speaker Andreas Norlén to the Turkish Parliament being canceled.

Last Saturday, Minister of Defense Pål Jonson (M) announced that his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar in Germany was also postponed.

TT is looking for Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson for a comment on Erdogan's latest statement.

Facts: Agreement with Turkey

In the summer of 2022, Sweden and Finland concluded an agreement (Module) with Turkey with a number of points that must be met in order for Turkey to give the green light to their NATO applications.

The agreement was signed on June 28 in Madrid. At the same time, Turkey released its veto against Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership.

As future NATO countries, Sweden and Finland are committed to supporting Turkey with regard to threats to its national security.

Sweden and Finland shall not provide support to the Kurdish YPG/PYD or the Gülen movement, and shall also unequivocally condemn all terrorist organizations carrying out attacks on Turkey.

Sweden and Finland will also treat ongoing and unsolved extradition requirements of persons like Turkey as terrorist suspects "quickly and carefully."

The countries also state in the agreement that there should be no arms embargoes between them.