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Erdogan to Sweden: Don't expect Turkish support for NATO bid

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Sweden shouldn't expect Turkey to support its NATO membership following a protest at the Turkish embassy in Stockholm over the weekend, which included the burning of a copy of the Koran, said President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (23 January).

On Saturday (21 January), protests were held in Stockholm against Turkey's membership and against Sweden's attempt to join NATO. During the demonstrations, a copy the Koran was set on fire. This has heightened tensions with Turkey which needs support to enter the military alliance.

Erdogan stated that those who tolerate such blasphemy at our embassy in Stockholm cannot expect our support for NATO membership.

He said: "If you are a terrorist organisation or enemy of Islam and you care deeply about them, then we recommend you seek their support for the security of your country."

Tobias Billstrom, the Swedish foreign minister, declined to comment immediately on Erdogan's comments. He said in a written declaration that he wanted to fully understand what was said.

He said that Sweden would respect the agreement between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey about our NATO membership.

Rasmus Paludan of the far-right Danish political party Hard Line was responsible for the Koran-burning. Paludan, who is also a Swedish citizen, has been involved in several demonstrations where he burned the Koran.

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The incident was condemned by several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland applied to NATO. However, all 30 members must approve their applications. Ankara previously stated that Sweden must take a stronger stance against terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants, which it blames for the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Turkey summoned Sweden's ambassador to Ankara about the incident.

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