“Paludan’s possible ties with Russia were investigated and certain connections were found in his environment,” Haavisto said. “It raises the question whether a third party, say Russia or another party opposed to NATO membership, is trying to incite and provoke. That is inexcusable.”
Paludan was given permission last weekend to burn a Quran at the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. This permission angered Turkey. Last Saturday, Paludan burned a Koran in the Swedish capital.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week that Sweden cannot count on Turkey’s support at this time in obtaining NATO membership. Consultations with Sweden and Finland on accession to NATO, which were scheduled for February, were also postponed.
Russia firmly opposes the two Scandinavian countries joining NATO. Turkey has been blocking this accession for months.
All 30 countries must agree to enter Sweden and Finland. Turkey has stipulated that both countries hand over up to 130 people it considers Kurdish terrorists or to be involved in the 2016 coup attempt.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has not yet responded to Haavisto’s comments.
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