Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden on Monday that it should not expect his backing to join NATO following the burning of the Quran outside Ankara’s embassy in Stockholm.
“Sweden should not expect support from us for NATO,” Erdogan said in his first official response to the act by an anti-Islam politician during a protest on Saturday that was approved by the Swedish police despite Turkey’s objections.
Swedish leaders roundly condemned far-right politician Rasmus Paludan’s actions but defended their country’s broad definition of free speech.
The protest further jeopardised Sweden’s attempt to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Erdogan has already set tough conditions for backing the joint bids by Sweden and its Nordic neighbour Finland.
Turkey is demanding that Sweden extradite dozens of mostly Kurdish suspects that Ankara either accuses of “terrorism” or of involvement in a failed 2016 coup.
The Swedish police decision to allow Paludan’s protest drew a furious response from Ankara on Friday.
Turkey cancelled a planned visit by Sweden’s defence minister and summoned Stockholm’s ambassador for a dressing down.
Erdogan said the burning of the holy Muslim book was a hate crime that could not be defended by free speech.
“It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country’s embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application for NATO membership,” Erdogan said.