The relationship between the two countries, Sweeden and Turkey, got disrupted after a protest in Sweeden’s capital, Stockholm. Tensions were exaggerated between the two countries when a copy of the holy book of Muslims, the Quran, was burned during the protest in Stockholm over the weekend.
Days after the protest, Turkish president Erdogan alerted Sweeden that they should not expect Turkey’s support for their Nato membership.
The statement by Erdogan after a cabinet meeting reads: “Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their Nato membership,”
“If you love members of terrorist organisations and enemies of Islam so much and protect them, then we advise you to seek their support for your countries’ security,” he added.
On Saturday, a protest was made by Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. Swedish authorities approved the protest. During the rally, Paludan burnt the holy book Quran and gave a provoking speech against Islam.
Although the authorities did not approve the burning of the book. In his country’s defence, the foreign minister of Sweeden, Tobias Billstrom, refused to respond immediately to Erdogan’s statement and clarified that he first wanted to understand clearly what had been said.
Billstrom further said: “But Sweden will respect the agreement that exists between Sweden, Finland and Turkey regarding our Nato membership,”
Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson made a statement on Twitter which reads: “Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of democracy. But what is legal is not necessarily appropriate. Burning books that are holy to many is a deeply disrespectful act,”
“I want to express my sympathy for all Muslims who are offended by what has happened in Stockholm today.”
However, in response, Turkish prime minister Erdogan said that the hate crime could not be barricaded by free speech.
He further added: “No one has the right to humiliate the saints,”
Reportedly Sweeden and Finland applied to join Nato last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. Both countries need the approval of all the 30-member states, but Turkey and Hungary are the only two members who showed disapproval to welcoming Sweeden and Finland to join the alliance.
Ned Price, the spokesperson of the US state department, said both Turkey and Finland refused to comment on Erdogan’s statement of showing disapproval of them.
Ned Price said: “Ultimately, this is a decision and consensus that Finland and Sweden are going to have to reach with Turkey,”
“We have a saying in this country – something can be lawful but awful. I think in this case, what we’ve seen in the context of Sweden falls into that category,” Price said.