Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Sunday that his country may agree to Finland joining NATO while potentially rejecting Sweden, amid rising tensions with Stockholm.
“We may deliver Finland a different message [on their NATO application], and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did,” Erdogan reportedly said in a televised speech seen on Sunday.
Erdogan’s remarks come after an anti-Islamisation campaigner staged a protest burning the Qur’an outside of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on Saturday. Sweden’s foreign ministry has since cautioned Swedes in Turkey to steer clear of crowds and demonstrations, according to reports.
“Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership,” the Turkish president said on Jan. 23.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has effectively pledged to block Sweden's entry into NATO after the Quran burning outside the Turkish consulate in Stockholm. Sweden applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine, but needs Turkey to approve it. #Quran #Sweden #Turkey pic.twitter.com/jYcdo6mKrW
— 5Pillars (@5Pillarsuk) January 24, 2023
Sweden and Finland launched their bids to join NATO last year after Russia launched its war against Ukraine. Both nations must obtain the approval of all NATO member countries in order to join. Turkey and Hungary have reportedly not yet approved Sweden’s membership request.
Citizens of Turkey have claimed that Sweden protects what Ankara says are militants from the prohibited Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms against the country in 1984.
“We gave Sweden a list of 120 persons and told them to extradite those terrorists in their country,” Erdogan said. “If you don’t extradite them, then sorry about that.”
Sweden reacted to Turkey’s demands surrounding PKK militants by approving a constitutional amendment empowering it to form stronger anti-terror laws called for by Turkey, according to the BBC.
Swedish leadership has indicated that it does not plan on meeting Turkey’s demands, despite its given deadlines.
“Turkey both confirms that we have done what we said we would do, but they also say that they want things that we cannot or do not want to give them,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson claimed in early January. Despite the tension, he reportedly is confident that Turkey will ultimately give his nation’s NATO bid the green light.
Finland has not commented on the tensions between Turkey and Sweden.