Turkey delays NATO meeting with Sweden, Finland 'indefinitely'
Accepting a new member into the 73-year-old alliance requires the unanimous approval of all 30 present members; Turkey is the one member most openly opposed to the new membership, in addition to Hungary.
Turkey has postponed a new round of discussions with Sweden and Finland on their NATO membership bids "indefinitely", Turkish official media reported on Tuesday.
The negotiations were scheduled to take place next month, according to reports citing Turkish diplomatic sources.
In this context, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he wanted to re-establish "dialogue" with Turkey as negotiations on Sweden's NATO accession stalled following the burning of a copy of the Holy Quran outside Ankara's Stockholm embassy.
"Our collective message is that we want to call for calm, for reflection, for calm in the process so that we can return to functioning talks between Sweden, Finland and Turkey on our common NATO membership," Kristersson told a press conference, adding that he wanted a return to "dialogue".
Earlier today, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto says it is too early to tell whether Sweden's application to ascend to NATO will reach a dead end, but if it does, Finland might opt to join NATO alone.
This is happening a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden that he would not back its bid to join the Western US-led defense alliance.
It is worth noting that bids to join NATO must be ratified by all members of the alliance, of which Turkey is a member.
Turkey condemned the burning of the Holy Quran during a protest in Sweden, describing it as a "vile act", saying the Swedish government's decision to allow the protest to go ahead was "completely unacceptable".
The event occurs at a critical time in the bilateral ties between Turkey and Sweden, especially since Stockholm is looking for Ankara's endorsement of its NATO membership applications.
Following the outbreak of the Ukraine war, Sweden and Finland both submitted applications to join NATO last year. However, their bids for accession require the unanimous approval of all 30 NATO member states to be considered. Turkey is one of the two remaining countries to have not approved the applications, and they're trying to draw as many concessions as possible from the Scandinavian countries in exchange for approval on their ascension into NATO.
Turkey's refusal to back Stockholm's accession has sparked a wave of anti-Turkish, anti-Muslim hate in Sweden.