Erdogan gives Sweden ‘homework’: Our friendship cannot be won by supporting terrorism

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan implied that his country was not ready to approve Sweden’s NATO membership, saying Stockholm needed to work harder on its “homework”.

Erdogan reiterated his condemnation of the burning of the Quran in Sweden last week: “The cowardly attack on our holy book Quran, in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, has angered us all. These are hate crimes fueled by Islamophobia,” state news agency Anadolu cited him as saying.


He added that attacks on people’s sacred values and faith symbols cannot be branded as freedom of thought, stressing: “Just as setting fire to a church, synagogue or temple of another faith is not freedom, so there can be no freedom to burn the Quran.”

He went on to send an implicit message to Sweden: “We have made it clear that the decisive fight against terrorist organizations and Islamophobia is our red line… Everyone has to accept that Turkey’s friendship cannot be won by opening up space and allocating city squares for terrorists.”

Turkey has refused to ratify Sweden’s NATO accession over objections of alleging that Stockholm supported Kurdish militants, namely the PKK, which Ankara deems a terrorist organization, and failing to extradite dozens of suspected “terrorists,” specifically the followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Erdogan added: “Instead of wasting time with distraction tactics, it is more rational and more effective to keep promises… I advise them to scrutinize [themselves] and do their homework better.”

Turkey had signed a memorandum of understanding on security and counter-terrorism with Sweden and Finland last year, under which the two European nations agreed to address Ankara’s concerns.

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