Politics & News

Right-wing Qur’an burning in Sweden threatens NATO’s expansion: US State Department

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington does not rule out that burning the Qur’an in front of the Turkish embassy in Sweden is a provocation to prevent NATO expansion.

 

Last week, the leader of the far-right “Hard Line” party, Rasmus Paludan, burned the Holy Qur’an in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, after he had previously obtained permission from the Swedish authorities to carry out this provocation.

Price said: “Whoever did it was a provocative individual, perhaps deliberately seeking to cause trouble between our close partners Turkey and Sweden, and working to complicate the ongoing negotiations regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commented earlier today on the incident and said that Sweden should not wait for Turkey’s approval to join NATO. This is in the wake of that disgraceful act.

Stockholm is seeking rapprochement and improving relations with Ankara, in order to win its approval of Sweden’s accession to NATO, as Ankara stipulates that Sweden stop “supporting terrorism”, in reference to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a “terrorist” and also the “Gulen” movement, which Turkey holds responsible for the 2016 coup attempt.

On May 18, 2022, Finland and Sweden, against the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine, submitted requests to the Secretary-General of NATO to join the alliance. So far, Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO have not been ratified by only two out of 30 countries. They are Hungary and Turkey.

On June 28, 2022, Turkey signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding with Sweden and Finland regarding the latter two countries’ accession to NATO. This was on the sidelines of the alliance leaders’ summit in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The memorandum came after the two European countries pledged to respond to Ankara’s demands regarding cooperation in the fight against “terrorism.”

 

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