Due to the dispute with Turkey, it became difficult for Sweden to get membership of the Western military alliance NATO. Turkey’s objection to the burning of the Holy Quran in anti-Turkey protests in the capital Stockholm may take a new turn.
Rasmus Paluden, a Danish far-right politician who received Danish citizenship, burned the Holy Quran in Stockholm on Saturday during anti-Turkey protests, Reuters reported.
At a time when Sweden needs Turkey’s support to join NATO, tensions between the two countries are believed to be at an all-time high over the Koran burning incident.
Various Muslim majority countries, including Turkey, have strongly protested against the burning of the Koran. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey strongly condemned the heinous attack on the Holy Quran.
The statement said Muslims were targeted in the name of freedom of expression. Also, sanctioning such anti-Islamic activities that insult the sacred values of Muslims is totally unacceptable.
According to the rules of the alliance, adding new members to NATO requires the support of all member states. 30 countries including USA, UK, Canada, Turkey are members of NATO. However, the biggest obstacle for Finland and Sweden to get NATO membership is Turkey’s objection.
Turkey has long demanded Stockholm to extradite Kurdish activists and prevent Kurdish protests against the Turkish leadership. Sweden’s bid for NATO membership could be thwarted by tensions over Ankara’s demands.
Paul Levin, director of Stockholm University’s Institute for Turkish Studies, said that this is likely to change after Turkey’s parliamentary elections in mid-May.
“We can now probably forget about the Turkish approval before the election,” Levin told AFP. The issue is likely to be decided by the elections to be held on May 14. What happens after that depends on who wins.’
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s objection to Sweden’s NATO membership is largely over the extradition of Turkish citizens from Stockholm, whom Turkey wants to try on terrorism charges. But Sweden is refusing to hand them over.
Last December, Sweden extradited a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to Turkey. He was convicted in a Turkish court and refused asylum in Sweden.
Erdogan wants more action from Stockholm against PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.
“On the one hand, the Turkish president is imprisoning tens of thousands of people on alleged contempt charges and trying to divert attention from the weak economy in the months leading up to the election,” Levin said.
‘On the other hand, there are groups in Sweden who are against Sweden’s NATO membership and PKK supporters are worried about the government’s commitment to follow them,’ he said.