Protest “burning the Koran” obstructs the NATO-Turkish-Swedish talks

Turkey announced on Saturday that it had canceled a visit to Sweden after allowing an anti-Turkish protest in Stockholm.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the talks with his Swedish counterpart, Pal Johnson, had been canceled because they had “lost their importance and meaning”.

The visit was intended to try to remove Ankara’s objections to Sweden’s attempt to join NATO.

The Swedish-Danish right-wing extremist, Rasmus Paludan, was allowed to hold a demonstration on Saturday in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, infuriating Turkey.

Paludan said he planned to “burn the Qur’an” in front of the building.

A pro-Turkish counter-protest is also planned at the embassy.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin condemned the demonstration, calling it a “hate crime”.

“To allow this act despite all our warnings is to encourage hate crimes and Islamophobia,” he wrote on Twitter. “The attack on sacred values ​​is not freedom but modern barbarism.”

Turkey has blocked Sweden’s bid for NATO since May in a bid to get Stockholm to meet several political demands, such as the deportation of critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kurds it claims are “terrorists”.

Critics warned against meeting these demands, saying that they undermine rights and freedoms in Sweden, along with the country’s sovereignty.

Sweden’s defense minister confirmed that the trip had been “postponed”, a decision he said was made with his Turkish counterpart on Friday during a meeting on Ukraine in Germany.

“Relationships with Turkey are very important to Sweden and we look forward to continuing the dialogue,” Pal Johnson wrote on Twitter.

Ankara summoned the Swedish ambassador over the protests for the second time in days.

Last week, Turkey’s harassment was sparked after a video was released showing a mannequin resembling Erdogan being hanged and calling the Turkish president a dictator.

It was published by a group affiliated with the Rojava Committee that supports the Kurds in Syria.

A pro-Kurdish demonstration, in which this committee will participate, is also scheduled to be held in Stockholm on Saturday, against Sweden’s membership in NATO and Turkish President Erdogan.

Turkey accuses Sweden of harboring Kurdish activists and sympathizers, which it describes as “terrorists”, especially from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its allies in northern Syria and Iraq.

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