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ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden on Monday that it should not expect his backing to join NATO following the burning of the holy Quran outside Ankara’s embassy in Stockholm.

Erdogan’s furious comments further distanced the prospects of Sweden and Finland joining the Western defence alliance before Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary polls in May.

Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members not to have ratified the Nordic neighbours’ historic decision to break their tradition of military non-alignment in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has promised that his parliament would approve the two bids next month.

But Erdogan has dug in his heels heading into a close election in which he is trying to energise his nationalist electoral base.

“Sweden should not expect support from us for NATO,” Erdogan said in his first official response to the act by an anti-Islam politician during a protest on Saturday that was approved by the Swedish police despite Turkey’s objections. “It is clear that those who caused such a disgrace in front of our country’s embassy can no longer expect any benevolence from us regarding their application for NATO membership,” Erdogan said.

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ندا رباب Jul 07, 2023 06:51pm
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