Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Tuesday he wanted to resume “dialogue” with Turkey as talks on Sweden’s NATO accession stalled after a Quran was burnt outside Ankara’s Stockholm embassy, Agence France-Presse reported.
“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.”
Turkey earlier in the day said it had postponed upcoming NATO accession talks with Sweden and Finland originally scheduled for February.
Ankara announced its decision one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at Sweden for allowing weekend protests that included the burning of the Koran outside Turkey’s embassy.
A Turkish diplomatic source said the tri-party meeting has been pushed back from February to a “later date,” without providing further details.
Kristersson said there were “provocateurs who wanted to spoil Sweden’s relations with other countries” and foil its bid to join the US-led Western military alliance.
Sweden and Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, decided jointly to end their decades-long policies of military non-alignment, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Their plans won formal support at a historic NATO summit in June, after which the two countries’ bids were swiftly ratified by 28 of NATO’s 30 member states.Bids to join NATO must be ratified by all members of the alliance, of which Turkey is a member.
“No national security question is more important than that we with Finland quickly become members of NATO,” Kristersson said.
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Tuesday for the first time floated the idea that it may have to consider joining the alliance alone, while stressing that a joint accession remained the “first option.”
“We understand the frustration that many in Finland feel at the moment that we in this situation have still not become members of NATO,” Kristersson said.
“But we are focusing on the very clear message that Finland continues to want to join NATO together with Sweden,” he added.