Türkiye rules out greenlighting Sweden joining NATO as long as it permits attacks on Islam’s holy book the Quran, the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

“We will not say yes to (Sweden’s) entry into NATO as long as you allow our holy book, the Quran, to be burned, torn apart, and to be done with (the approval of) your security personnel,” Erdogan said, referring to the recent burning of a Quran in Stockholm.

“We closely follow developments regarding NATO’s enlargement process. Our view on Finland is positive, but not on Sweden,” he said, signalling a willingness to support Finland’s NATO bid separately from Sweden’s.

His remarks came after Danish-Swedish paedophile Rasmus Paludan last week burned copies of the Quran on two separate occasions, first outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm and then later in front of a mosque in Denmark.

Paludan also said he would burn the Muslim holy book every Friday until Sweden is admitted to the NATO alliance.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO last May, a decision spurred by Russia’s military action against Ukraine, which started on February 24, 2022.

But Türkiye – a NATO member for more than 70 years – voiced objections, accusing the two countries of tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups. Under a memorandum signed last June between Türkiye, Sweden, and Finland, the two Nordic countries, pledged to take steps against terrorists in order to gain membership in the NATO alliance.

In the agreement, Sweden and Finland agreed not to provide support to terrorist groups such as the PKK and its offshoots, and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and to extradite terror suspects to Türkiye, among other steps.

Unanimous agreement from all NATO members, including Türkiye, is needed for any new members to be admitted to the alliance.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara has fewer problems with Finland becoming a NATO member than with its neighbour Sweden. He stressed, however, that it was up to the military alliance to decide whether to accept one country only or the Nordic duo together – something that both countries are committed to.

Should NATO decide to deal with the membership processes of the Nordic neighbours separately, “(Türkiye) will then of course reconsider (ratifying) Finland’s membership separately and more favourably, I can say,” Cavusoglu said during a joint news conference with his Estonian colleague in Tallinn. He did not give a timeframe.

Erdogan also repeated that Türkiye’s view on Finland’s membership was “positive.”

“But it is not positive about Sweden, that should be known,” Erdogan said.


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