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ISTANBUL: Turkiye warned Tuesday it will not be pressured into backing Sweden’s bid to join NATO and said it was still assessing whether the Nordic country’s entry would benefit or hurt bloc.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s comments came two days before he was due meet his Swedish counterpart in Brussels to discuss Stockholm’s attempt to become the 32nd member of the US-led defence alliance.

NATO hopes to welcome Sweden by the time alliance leaders hold a summit in Lithuania on July 11-12.

But Turkiye and fellow NATO member Hungary are holding up ratification over a range of individual disputes with both Stockholm and Brussels.

Unanimous approval from current members is required for new countries to join the world’s most powerful defence organisation.

“We never approve of the use of time pressure as a method,” Fidan told a televised press conference.

Turkey to hold NATO talks with Sweden next Thursday

Ankara has been frustrated by decisions by the Stockholm police to grant permits for protests at which anti-Islamic figures have burned pages from the Koran outside the Turkish embassy and mosques.

The last such protest on the first day of the Eid al-Adha religious holiday last week drew strong condemnation from across the Muslim world.

Fidan referred to the incident as an example of Sweden failing to live up to commitments it made when it won Turkiye’s initial backing for its application in Madrid one year ago.

“Sweden’s security system is not able to stop provocations. This is not bringing more strength but more problems to NATO,” he said.

“In terms of strategy and security, when we are discussing Sweden’s membership of NATO, it’s a question of whether it will be a benefit or a burden.”

The Swedish government on Sunday condemned last week’s Koran burning as “Islamophobic”.

But it added in a foreign ministry statement that Sweden had a “constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly, expression and demonstration”.

The Stockholm police ruled prior to last week’s protest that the risks associated with the Koran burning “were not of a nature that could justify, under current laws, a decision to reject the request”.

Sweden and its neighbour Finland dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland formally joined the bloc in April.

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