Erdogan warns Sweden not to expect support for NATO bid.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Sweden not to expect his country’s backing for their NATO bid after the Quran burning row. 

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On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sternly told Sweden not to expect Turkey’s backing for their NATO membership bid. 

The announcement comes days after a copy of the Quran was burnt in front of the Turkish embassy in a protest in Stockholm.

Earlier this month Kurdish protesters hung an effigy of Erdogan in the country adding to both countries’ sour relationship. 

Over growing fears in Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden, a relatively neutral country, applied for NATO membership. 

Turkey and Hungary are the only two members yet to ratify the Nordic country’s bid in the military alliance.

However Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that his parliament would ratify their bid in early 2023.

But Erdogan has taken a contrasting stance on Sweden. Such stern remarks might also be explained due to close elections and his bid to energize his nationalist supporters.

“Sweden should not expect support from us for Nato,” Erdogan said on Monday.

Calling the burning of the Quran an attack against 85 million Turkish citizens, he condemned the latest protest as being blasphemous and not to be supported as free speech.

Meanwhile, Sweden reacted to Erdogan’s remarks with cautious words.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said “I cannot comment on the statement tonight. First, I want to understand exactly what was said,”

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Adding that Sweden respects the agreement between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey regarding their NATO membership. 

Erdogan in his televised remarks said, “No one has the right to humiliate the saints.”

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that freedom of expression is an essential commodity in NATO countries, and therefore even though the acts were unacceptable they still were not “automatically illegal”. 

In protest, Turkey canceled various trips from Sweden in the country with the latest one coming against Swedish Defence Minister. 

Sweden’s top officials hoped that these visits would help cool down the objections raised by Turkey against their bid. 

They are already under hot water when previously Turkey demanded extradition for Kurdish suspects accused of terrorism or involved in the failed 2016 coup. 

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