UPDATE - Swedish Prime Minister Hopes To Return To Dialogue With Turkey On NATO Membership

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 25th January, 2023) Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, amid deteriorating relations between Stockholm and Ankara, said he hoped to return to a working dialogue with Turkey on NATO membership.

Sweden-Turkey relations deteriorated due to the recent burning of the Quran by Danish far-right party Stram Kurs leader Rasmus Paludan, who obtained permission from the Swedish authorities to carry out the provocative action. After that, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sweden should not count on Turkish support for the application to join NATO.

"I want to return to the working dialogue again... I want to call for calm in this process. Sweden, Finland and Turkey concluded a trilateral agreement. Everything is going well. But it is clear that we do not like everything in the same manner," Kristersson told reporters.

He said he does not believe the Turkish president "shut the door" on the issue of the kingdom's membership in NATO.

Earlier, Kristersson condemned the burning of the Quran near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, calling it an unacceptable act of disrespect, but noted that the law was not violated.

On January 21, Stram Kurs leader Paludan burned a copy of the Quran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm after receiving permission from the authorities. The burning was condemned by many countries, including Turkey, whose Foreign Ministry called it a "vile attack" on the holy book and "another example of the alarming level that Islamophobia and racist and discriminatory movements have reached in Europe."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said January 21 that Paludan's action was a clear violation of Sweden's obligations under a tripartite memorandum it had signed with Turkey and Finland to mend disagreements for NATO membership, specifically its clause on preventing terrorist propaganda. In addition, Turkey unilaterally canceled the upcoming visit of the Swedish defense minister to Ankara, where he was expected to discuss Stockholm's application for NATO membership.

On January 23, Turkish President Erdogan said Sweden should not expect Turkish support for its bid to join NATO after such anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic actions.

Finland and Sweden, amid the conflict in Ukraine, on May 18, 2022 applied for NATO membership. At first, Turkey blocked the process of considering these applications, but already on June 29, 2022 Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a security memorandum that takes into account Ankara's concerns. To date, Sweden and Finland's applications have not been ratified by two countries out of 30 - Hungary and Turkey.