A few days after the Koran was publicly burned in Sweden, Turkish President Erdogan says he may reject Sweden’s application to join Nato.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan has stated that unless Sweden extradites dozens of “terrorists” to Turkey, he will not support Sweden’s application to join NATO.
After decades of military non-alignment, Sweden and Finland last year submitted applications to join Nato in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
All present members of NATO must unanimously ratify their application for membership, although Turkey and Hungary have not done so.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims that while Sweden may be accepted into NATO, Ankara may not.
Erdogan said in his address that Sweden would be startled if Turkey suddenly “gives a different approach concerning Finland.”
“We gave Sweden a list of 120 persons and told them to extradite those terrorists in their country,” said Mr Erdogan. “If you don’t extradite them, then sorry about that.”
He criticised Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of people allegedly tied to Kurdish militant groups and other critics of his government.
“If you absolutely want to join Nato, you will return these terrorists to us,” said Erdogan.
His comments come days after Turkey suspended talks to accept the two Nordic nations as members.
The move was prompted by a series of controversial protests in Stockholm, including one during which a copy of the Koran was burned.
Turkey also criticised Sweden over another protest in Stockholm, including one by a Kurdish support group which hung an effigy of Mr Erdogan from a lamp-post.
Swedish officials have condemned the protests, but defended the country’s free speech laws.
Turkey called on Sweden to distance itself from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is regarded as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Both Sweden and Finland have also lifted bans on the sale of military equipment to Turkey, introduced after Ankara’s military intervention in Syria in 2019.