- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Sweden’s NATO Membership Uncertain Amid Concerns Over Quran Burning Incidents
Sweden’s potential entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is facing uncertainty due to concerns arising from incidents of Quran burning, highlighted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These remarks cast a shadow over the approval process within the Turkish parliament, which plays a crucial role in NATO membership decisions. Erdogan’s comments indicate that the duration required for ratifying Sweden’s NATO application remains uncertain. Originally, Turkey’s objections were based on perceived deficiencies in Sweden’s counter-terrorism efforts.
Erdogan emphasized the need for Swedish authorities to address ongoing events on the streets of Stockholm, referring to instances of Quran burning and desecration during protests in the Swedish capital. He cautioned that if such actions continue and order is not restored, Sweden’s aspirations for NATO membership should not come as a surprise.
During the NATO summit in Vilnius held in July, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Erdogan’s intention to swiftly submit Sweden’s NATO membership application to the Turkish parliament for approval. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also participated in the meeting. However, Erdogan refrained from offering further comments after the session.
The Turkish Parliament will resume its sessions in October after the summer recess, initiating discussions on Sweden’s NATO application. Erdogan emphasized that the timeline for approval will depend on parliamentary proceedings, including committee debates and plenary sessions. Although the Turkish parliament’s assessment could unfold relatively quickly, concerns have arisen within both ruling and opposition parties regarding Sweden’s NATO accession.
Opposition from diverse political factions has created reservations about Sweden’s inclusion in the alliance. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), lacking a parliamentary majority, would need support from its ally, the nationalist MHP, to secure the necessary votes.
Turkey has maintained opposition to Sweden’s NATO entry for over a year, primarily due to concerns about Sweden’s counter-terrorism efforts. While Sweden has taken steps to address Turkey’s reservations, the issue of Quran desecration adds a new dimension to the discussion. As the Turkish parliament debates Sweden’s NATO application, the outcome remains uncertain, highlighting the intersection of political, security, and cultural considerations in NATO membership decisions.
Article by Prague Forum