Finland Ponders Joining NATO Without Sweden After Koran Burning Angers Turkey
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Finland says it may join the NATO military alliance without Sweden as Turkey blocks Swedish membership, citing a Koran burning by far-right activists and pro-Kurdish protests in Stockholm.
Helsinki will need to “evaluate the situation if it turns out that Sweden’s application is stalling for a long time to come,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in published remarks.
The statement, monitored by Worthy News on Wednesday, was the first time a Western official suggested that a diplomatic solution may not be reached between Sweden and Turkey.
It came as tensions between the two nations escalated after far-right demonstrators burned a Koran and chanted anti-Muslim slogans in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm.
Ankara immediately denounced the act in Sweden’s capital and condemned the granting of a permit for the protest as the Koran is deemed a holy book by Muslims. Turkey also canceled an upcoming visit by Sweden’s defense chief focused on its NATO membership.
Sweden should not expect Turkey’s support for its NATO membership following the Koran burning, stressed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. “Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership,” Erdogan added in a speech after a Cabinet meeting.
The Turkish leader also condemned pro-Kurdish protests this month, which included the hanged effigy of Erdogan near Stockholm City Hall.
A pro-Kurdish group called the Swedish Solidarity Committee for Rojava made clear it wanted to evoke the hanging of Italy’s wartime fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.
It urged President Erdogan to “take the chance to step down now, so you don’t end up upside-down in Taksim Square” in the Turkish city of Istanbul. Erdogan is also upset that Sweden does not extradite Kurdish protesters who allegedly played a role in a coup against him.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member states still holding up the membership of Sweden and Finland in the alliance. Hungary’s rightwing government, which maintains close ties with Russia, says Parliament is due to ratify membership of the Nordic nations in February.
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