Sweden’s bid for NATO membership has hit a dead end after a rally of the far right burns the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Sweden’s bid for NATO membership is up in the air amid strained ties with Turkey over Ankara’s demands to extradite Kurdish activists and prevent rallies attacking its leadership.
Tensions came to a head on Saturday when the leader of a Danish far-right political party burned the Koran during a protest outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.
Ahead of the meeting, Ankara said it was canceling a visit by Sweden’s defense minister to allay Turkey’s objections to its NATO membership and had called on Turkey’s foreign minister to ban the meeting.
Sweden needs Turkey’s support to gain access to NATO as fears rise in Europe following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Here’s a look at recent relations between Turkey and Sweden:
May 12, 2022
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin have announced that Finland must apply “without delay” to join NATO’s military alliance.
May 13, 2022
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it is not possible for Ankara to support Sweden and Finland in joining the transatlantic military alliance, signaling a potential hurdle for the two countries’ plans to join the organization.
May 15, 2022
The Finnish government has officially announced its intention to join NATO. The ruling party of Sweden followed soon after.
May 16, 2022
President Erdogan reaffirmed Turkish opposition to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden and shot down a proposal by the Nordic countries to send delegations to Ankara to discuss the matter.
“We don’t say ‘yes’ to that [countries] imposing sanctions on Turkey to join security organization NATO,” Erdogan said at a press conference, referring to Sweden’s decision in 2019 to suspend arms sales to Turkey over its military operation in neighboring Syria.
Turkey also accused the two nations of harboring “terror groups”, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which was blacklisted by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.
Justice Ministry sources told state news agency Anadolu on Monday that Sweden and Finland have not responded positively to Turkey’s 33 extradition requests over the past five years.
May 18, 2022
Finland and Sweden have officially applied to join the world’s largest military alliance. The move requires the unanimous approval of the alliance’s 30 current members. The process was expected to take about two weeks.
June 28, 2022
Turkey lifted its veto over Finland and Sweden’s NATO bid after four hours of talks ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid.
Turkey’s justice minister announced that as part of the deal, his country will seek the extradition of 33 alleged Kurdish fighters and coup suspects from Sweden and Finland.
December 19, 2022
Sweden’s Supreme Court blocked the extradition of an exiled Turkish journalist, a key demand from Ankara.
There were “several obstacles” to returning former editor-in-chief of daily Zaman Bulent Kenes, who accuses Turkey of being involved in a 2016 attempt to overthrow Erdogan, the court said.
December 22, 2022
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sweden is not even halfway to fulfilling commitments it has made to secure Ankara’s support for its membership.
He said a Swedish court’s decision not to extradite a man wanted by Turkey over alleged links to a failed coup in 2016 had “poisoned” a positive atmosphere in the negotiations.
January 8, 2023
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Sweden cannot meet Turkey’s demands, but he is confident Ankara will approve its entry into NATO.
January 12, 2023
Turkey is calling on the Swedish ambassador to answer for a video posted by Sweden’s pro-Kurdish Rojava Committee, which shows an effigy of Erdogan swinging by his legs on a rope.
A tweet from the group on Jan. 11 compared Erdogan to Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who was hanged upside down after his execution in the closing days of World War II.
January 21, 2023
Turkish officials denounced the permission granted to Rasmus Paludan, a right-wing Swedish-Danish politician, to protest outside his embassy in the Swedish capital.
After a nearly hour-long diatribe attacking Islam and immigration in Sweden, Paludan set fire to a copy of the Quran.
Swedish police gave permission for the demonstration after determining that it fell under liberal freedom of expression. But Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said allowing the protest “encourages hate crimes and Islamophobia”.
Subsequently, a group of protesters set fire to a Swedish flag at a rally outside the consulate in Istanbul and called on Turkey to sever diplomatic ties with Stockholm.
A day after summoning the Swedish ambassador over Paludan’s latest demonstration, Ankara said it had called off Defense Minister Pal Jonson’s visit scheduled for January 27 to allay Turkey’s objections to Sweden’s NATO bid. to take.