Qur’an Burning: Turkey raises questions over Sweden’s reliability as a possible NATO member
Speaking at a joint news conference with his Jordanian counterpart on Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said Swedish authorities’ failure to prevent repeated Qur’an-burning incidents raises questions about its reliability as a potential NATO member.
But Fidan stressed Turkey would still ratify Sweden’s bid if Stockholm “completes its homework”. The military alliance requires the unanimous approval of all member countries in order to expand. Ankara and Budapest are the only ones objecting to Sweden’s membership.
Both Sweden and neighbouring Finland got rid of their decades-long neutral position and applied to join NATO last year after Russia launched its ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine. Ankara approved Finland’s bid in March, making the country NATO’s 31st member.
Turkey Accusing Sweden Of Being Too Soft
The fact that Stockholm is incapable of preventing provocations and is presenting an image of a potential member that brings problems to NATO – instead of additional power – is making Ankara think in terms of the strategic and security aspects, Fidan said.
Turkey continues to accuse Sweden of being too soft toward certain groups Ankara regards as threats to its security, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (or PKK) and members of a network Ankara still blames for a 2016 coup.
The PKK, designated a terrorist organisation by the EU and US, has waged a years-long insurgency against Turkey that has killed tens of thousands. Demonstrations in Sweden by supporters of the group as well as Qur’an burning protests continue to draw Ankara’s fury.
Alarming Rise In Acts Of Religious Hatred
Sweden and Finland signed a memorandum with Turkey last year under which they agreed to address Ankara’s certain concerns. Since applying for membership, Stockholm has changed its anti-terror legislation.
But Fidan stressed terror groups were able to raise money, recruit members and stage demonstrations in Sweden. Meanwhile, numerous Muslim countries and Pope Francis have lamented last week’s Qur’an burning outside a mosque in Stockholm.
Swedish authorities allowed the protest to take place, citing freedom of speech. Following a request by Pakistan, the UN Human Rights Council is now expected to hold discussions on “the alarming rise” in acts of religious hatred.