Sweden should “act differently” if it wants to clinch Türkiye’s support for its bid to join NATO, Hungary’s foreign minister has said, adding that a recent Quran-burning incident outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm was “unacceptable.”
Peter Szijjarto made the remark at a news conference on Tuesday following talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Hungary’s capital Budapest.
Both diplomats addressed the January 21 anti-Muslim act that increased tensions between Ankara and Stockholm as Sweden seeks Türkiye’s approval to join the NATO military alliance.
“As a Christian and as a Catholic, I must say that burning of a holy book of another religion is an unacceptable act,” Szijjarto said, and criticised a statement by Sweden’s prime minister that while the burning of the Quran was inappropriate and “deeply disrespectful,” it fell under Swedish freedom of speech protections.
“Stating that the burning of a sacred book is part of freedom of speech is just plain stupidity,” Szijjarto said, adding that “perhaps they [Sweden] should act differently than that” if they want to secure Ankara’s backing.
Turkish FM Cavusoglu:
– Sweden wants to join NATO because of Russia & terror threats
– It’s unacceptable that our fight against terror is ignored by Sweden
– They know what we agreed to in Madrid. We want nothing more or nothing else pic.twitter.com/oRBqZ6SShw
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) January 31, 2023
Sweden’s sheltering of PKK, FETO terrorists
Türkiye and Hungary remain the only two NATO members that haven’t approved bids by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance.
The northern European neighbours, which share a border with Russia, dropped their long-standing military neutrality and sought NATO membership in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
A unanimous vote of all 30 NATO members is necessary for admitting new countries.
Ankara has refused to ratify the two countries’ NATO membership bids, primarily because of Sweden’s refusal to extradite dozens of terrorists linked to outlawed PKK/YPG, and FETO whose members were behind the 2016 coup attempt.
Cavusoglu said Türkiye shares Hungary’s wish for NATO enlargement, but that it was now “impossible for us to confirm [Sweden’s] accession” into the alliance.
He called the Quran-desecration a “provocation which will take us nowhere, it can only lead to chaos.”
Ankara has said Sweden has failed in its commitment to crack down on terror groups that pose a threat to the country.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US and European Union — has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. YPG is its Syrian offshoot.
Fetullah Terrorist Organization [or FETO] orchestrated a defeated coup in Türkiye on July 15, 2016 in which 252 people were killed and 2,734 others were wounded.
FETO is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Hungary won’t influence Türkiye
Hungary’s government was expected to vote on accepting Sweden and Finland into NATO by the end of last year.
The issue will be on the Hungarian parliament’s agenda during its first session of the year in February, Szijjarto said.
Szijjarto said Hungary has a “clear standpoint” on admitting Sweden and Finland into NATO, but would not attempt to influence Türkiye either way.
“I never urge any other foreign governments to do things which are not of our concern,” Szijjarto said.
Source: TRT World