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Turkey uses anti-Islam incidents to block Sweden’s entry into NATO

Ankara opposes the integration of Sweden into NATO, accusing it of harboring Kurdish militants whom it considers to be terrorists. The burning of a copy of the Koran last weekend, during a far-right rally in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, gave President Erdogan the opportunity to close the door a little more.

With our correspondent in Stockholm, Carlotta Morteo

At Linda’s, diplomatic tensions only add gloom to the ambient grayness of the Swedish winter. “ Whoever did this is an idiot representing only himself. The majority of Swedes are good people, it’s really a shame to hate a whole country because of what an individual has done , ”she judges. Moreover, this saleswoman would have preferred that her country remain neutral, as it had been the case for two hundred years, rather than venture to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 


Ankara has blocked the entry of Sweden – and Finland – into the Alliance since May. To lift its veto , it demanded the extradition of members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and organizations allied to it, which it accuses of terrorism. Sweden and Finland made concessions and signed a memorandum.

But since the beginning of January, relations between the two countries have deteriorated , with in particular the dissemination by pro-Kurdish activists of a video showing a model of Recep Tayyip Erdogan hanging upside down in front of Stockholm City Hall. This weekend, a new episode came to complete the situation. As part of a police-sanctioned protest near the Turkish embassy on Saturday, Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist Rasmus Paludan burned a copy of the Koran.

Postponed indefinitely

Turkey’s reaction was quick: ”  Sweden should not expect support from us for NATO  ,” said President Erdogan in the process. On Tuesday, she postponed  indefinitely a tripartite meeting originally scheduled for early February and intended to remove Ankara’s objections to their candidacy.

Johan, a tech employee, is very attached to freedom of expression, but blasphemy is disrespectful and he understands anger. However: ” An agreement has been made between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, and we should focus on that, ” he said. If the countries respect their commitments, that should be enough! There, what happens, it has nothing to do with the agreement. I find that to be unfair. »

“ Serious ” condition

” I want to renew a working dialogue with Turkey ,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said at a press conference on Tuesday, criticizing the ” provocateurs ” who are trying to destabilize the Swedish candidacy and calling for ” calm ” in the face of a ” serious ” situation.

Many believe that Sweden has already made too many concessions. The government is even considered a poor negotiator by this industry retiree. ” No matter what the Swedes do, Mr. Erdogan always says ‘no’, even when they give him more, ” he says. Any pretext, he uses it in his favor. So, the burning of the Koran, that did its business. Only the Americans can exert pressure. » 

The Swedes no longer plan to join NATO before the Turkish elections in May 2023. 

Source : RFI