Turkey sweats Sweden in NATO bid as Stockholm struggles to meet Ankara’s demands
The Turkish government has increased pressure on Sweden to enforce its demands in exchange for the Nordic country's NATO bid, while Stockholm struggles to reconcile its democracy with Ankara's insistence on "preventing terrorist acts."
Turkey's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Swedish ambassador to Ankara for the second time in 10 days over authorities' approval of a demonstration planned for Saturday near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, a Foreign Ministry source said.
The source said the Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the "provocative" protest, which included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, and conveyed Ankara's expectation that permission for the demonstration be rescinded.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said he was concerned that the demonstration could further delay Turkey's ratification of Sweden's application to NATO. He added, however, that it would be "very inappropriate" for him to call for prohibiting a person from holding a demonstration.
The incident comes at a sensitive time in bilateral relations, as both Sweden and Finland are seeking Turkey's approval of their membership applications to NATO.
The two Nordic countries applied for membership in NATO last year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but their applications must be approved by all 30 member states of NATO. Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve the applications.
Last week, Staffan Herrstrom, Sweden's ambassador to Turkey, was summoned to the ministry again after an effigy of President Tayyip Erdogan was hung at a demonstration in Stockholm. Sweden condemned the incident, but a Swedish prosecutor refused to open an investigation, a day after Erdogan warned that relations with Stockholm could deteriorate if Sweden did not take action against "terrorists"
Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara had canceled Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson's upcoming visit to Turkey in response to recent events
"We have noted with regret that no action has been taken after these shameful and heinous acts against Turkey and our President. Therefore, the visit of Swedish Defense Minister Jonson to Turkey on January 27 has now become meaningless," Akar said during his visit to Germany.