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Turkey says Sweden was complicit in burning of Quran amid pressure over NATO membership bid

CNN  — 

The Swedish authorities was complicit within the burning of the Quran at a protest in Stockholm final weekend, Turkish International Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reportedly mentioned Thursday.

Elevated tensions between the 2 international locations come at a time when Sweden is counting on Turkey to assist its bid for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) army alliance, of which Turkey is a member, within the gentle of Russia’s conflict on Ukraine.

Çavuşoğlu blamed the Swedish authorities after police within the capital Stockholm licensed the demonstration by right-wing politician Rasmus Paludan, and held it answerable for the burning of the Islamic holy guide, in accordance with state information company Anadolu.

Turkish-Swedish relations suffered a significant blow final week after the rally exterior the town’s Turkish Embassy final Saturday at which anti-immigration politician Paludan set a duplicate of the Quran alight.

The incident sparked anger within the Turkish capital, Ankara, the place protesters took to the streets and burned the Swedish flag exterior the Swedish embassy in response.

Talking Thursday, Çavuşoğlu mentioned the Swedish authorities had “taken half on this crime by permitting this vile act” to go forward, in accordance with Anadolu.

The international minister described the incident as a “racist assault” that had nothing to do with freedom of thought, the company mentioned.

Çavuşoğlu suggested Sweden to “demine” its path to NATO membership or threat ruining its likelihood by “stepping on these mines,” Anadolu reported.

Earlier this week, Ankara referred to as for a February assembly between Turkey, Sweden and Finland to be postponed, in accordance with Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber, which cited unnamed diplomatic sources.

Finland can also be making use of to hitch NATO, together with its Nordic neighbor, after Moscow’s assault on Ukraine sparked renewed safety concern throughout the area.

Anadolu reported Thursday that the assembly round Sweden and Finland’s NATO functions was postponed in gentle of the present “unhealthy political atmosphere.”

The three international locations have met up to now below the “trilateral memorandum” to debate Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership requests.

Ankara additionally canceled Swedish Protection Minister Pål Jonson’s deliberate journey to Turkey within the wake of the incident.

Sweden and Finland utilized final 12 months to hitch NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however all 30 member states, together with Turkey, should approve their bids.

Turkey has mentioned Sweden specifically should first take a clearer stance towards what it sees as terrorists, primarily Kurdish militants and a gaggle it blames for a 2016 coup try.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Hande Atay Alam contributed to this report.

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