Turkey Blocks Sweden from Joining NATO Due to Sweden’s Free Speech Protections

Flag of TurkeyTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been one of the most anti-free speech leaders in the world, particularly demanding the censorship and the arrest of those who insult Islam. Now Erdogan is blocking Sweden from NATO membership because it refuses to curtail free speech. It is a tragically ironic moment for an alliance based on what were viewed as shared Western values. It is now held hostage by one of the most authoritarian leaders in the world.

Erdogan is upset because Rasmus Paludan, a Swedish politician, burned a Quran outside the Turkish embassy during a protest this weekend. It was a hateful and grotesque act. However, it is also a form of political speech. I have previously written about the pressure of countries like Turkey to get the world to adopt blasphemy laws, a move that the Obama Administration and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to support.

 Erdogan declared “It is clear that those who allowed such vileness to take place in front of our embassy can no longer expect any charity from us regarding their NATO membership application.” In other words, reject the core Western value of free speech if you want to join the Western alliance.

Sweden already caved to Turkish pressure to change its laws and crackdown on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK in the country.

However, it now appears to say that it will not allow Sweden to join the alliance to protect it from Russia if Sweden insists on protecting free speech.

108 thoughts on “Turkey Blocks Sweden from Joining NATO Due to Sweden’s Free Speech Protections”

  1. I think this is posturing for domestic consumption and to maximise Turkey’s bargaining position. Turkey will not decide on this until much later in the year, after elections.

  2. Turkey was at one time a democracy and non sectarian, which was Kemal Ataturk’s design after WW 1. The army was the Arbiter of the constitution and was secular and would tend to intervene if the government became sectarian. Then Erdogan had has false coup attempt and basically trashed it all to install an Islamic Republic and basically one man rule. As mentioned above the best workaround would be for each individual state to establish a pro forma defense treaty with Sweden and Finland if necessary. Turkey has repeatedly attempted to join the EU but has been blocked because of this same stance by Erdogan.

  3. Unfortunately, Turkey has the second largest military in NATO, (after the US). It’s the long term under-investment in self defense by most of the European nations that make Turkey important.

  4. NATO is an organization that shouldn’t exist. It’s purpose ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thank Bill Clinton.

  5. To be fair to Turkey, Americans would once have viewed the burning of a Bible as a sacrilege worthy of severe punishment. Have we progressed or regressed?

  6. The burning of one group’s sacred text may be just a “free speech” issue to westerners who have given up religion decades ago, but to a nation of 84 million Muslims, not to mention the world Muslim population, this was a deliberate provocative political act. In a perfect world, all parties would have free speech and be able to provoke all other parties. But we know very well that the West uses free speech as a political weapon and a shield. Turkey does not have a free speech constitutional clause, so applying US values — ones we do not honor ourselves — to another country is disingenuous. Europe is doing even more to undermine free speech on a daily basis. In the end, it may be a good thing that Sweden doesn’t join NATO. NATO is a thuggish, belligerent alliance that has no right to call itself a “defense” organization.

    1. GioCon – Islam has been in the world since the 7th century of the Common Era. I am not aware of any Muslim country that has voluntarily given up its religion. Eric Hofer remarked upon the extreme stablility of Islam. We will need to deal with this culture for the rest of time. Despite our purported love of free speech, we need to respect the sensibiities of Muslims around the world, unless we want to drive them into the arms of Communist China.

  7. I am very curious about how the individual member nations of NATO will opine on this ultimatum.

  8. Corrupt government led by a autocrat.
    Islamist president. Supports radical terrorist groups.
    Commits cultural and ethnic genocide.
    Broke the economy. Inflation about 90%.
    No free speech. Imprisons journalists, editors, and opposition.
    Russia’s eyes in NATO.
    Purchases Russian oil for resale. Is not participating in sanctions put in place by NATO and the EU.
    Threatens Greece with war. Greece is a NATO member.

    The only reason Turkey remains in NATO: someone forgot to add a clause in the NATO Treaty allowing a member state to be kicked out of the group.

  9. Probably the easiest solution would be for the individual NATO members to conclude their own individual treaties with Sweden.

  10. What’s wrong with baning subversiove speech like “Defund the Police” and “Hands Up don’t Shoot”

    Wouldn’t we be safer if speech that undermines trust in copsd was outlawed?

    1. Z Crazy wrote, “What’s wrong with banning subversive speech like “Defund the Police” and “Hands Up don’t Shoot”. Wouldn’t we be safer if speech that undermines trust in cops was outlawed?”

      To answer your question directly, for the overall health and safety of the United States of America, the answer has to be no.

      “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

      The correct response to irrational speech is to correct it with rational speech.

  11. It’s seems to me that Turkey’s “friendship” with Europe and NATO has always been a false facade used to try and control a rogue nation a “keep your enemies close” kind of thing, so maybe it’s time for NATO to take a stand and send a message that will be heard around the world, support free speech or get booted from NATO.

    1. skyraider1717 – Turkey is sending weapons to Ukraine to defeat Russia. Other countries in NATO are not. Turkey sent troops to fight in the Korean War against communist agression, when most other European countries did not. Turkey fights. That, along with its crucial geographical position, is why it is needed by NATO.

  12. Speaking of control…. this perspective is quite unusual. I believe the country is on its own island and perhaps no other group to join???

  13. Remember when Erdogan sent his security detail to attack protesters IN WASHINGTON!!!!

    And we did nothing.

    We have allowed him to impose his thuggish way on us for too long.

  14. Heres a novel thought, why dont we just stay here on north america, mind our own business screw the rest of the world.

    1. If only that were possible. To paraphrase Trotsky: “You may not be interested in the world, but the world is interested in you.”

    2. Independent Bob,
      While a novel thought that I happen to agree with, others would cry of being an “isolationist,” abandoning our allies (and all that money we send as aid), who would fill in as the global police, and what kind of chaos would follow in the vacuum?

      1. I hate to disagree with fellow conservatives, but your ideas are very shortsighted. SO what do we do if China takes over Taiwan, nothing? Then they take over islands around Japan. Then they take over Japan. Then they take over the Philippines. Then they take over Guam. I guess you guys think we should act when they hit the beaches of Hawaii???

        How about Russia taking Ukraine, then other former Soviets States, then I guess they head to Poland. Heck, it is NATO, but let’s just worry when they are here. How about Iran, Saudi Arabia and other area states?

        We live in a world that values sovereignty of states, that is why GHW Bush was right to expel Iraq from Kuwait. We should have stopped there and not gotten into nation building, but large states cannot take over small states. I don’t mean to go all Treaty of Westphalia on you, but world order matters, and as China keeps growing we better be prepared to defend this system that has worked well when supported. WWII was the exception that proves the rule.

        1. HulBobby,
          With respect, the US/West lead uni-polar world is dead. The new, emerging multi-polar one is changing the geopolitical landscape. 14 countries are applying for BRICS membership, to include Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and China have agreed to purchases of oil in yuan, effectively cutting out the petrodollar.
          A DC think tank just released a report that if the US were to go to war with China over Taiwan, the US would be out of some long range, precision munitions. It has also been noted it would take years, even at surge levels to restock to pre-Ukraine levels.
          Der Spiegel is reporting German intelligence says the Ukraine army is loosing triple digit troops daily in the battle of Bakhmut.
          Over the years even as far back as a decade, several experts have written papers stating the Eastward expansion of NATO would lead to the exact situation we are seeing today.
          If the US does not do something about its foreign policy, domestic economics, wokeism, debt, and a few other hundred issues, the US is looking more like the fall of Roman in fast forward.

            1. S. Meyer,
              Normally I would look back in history for examples.
              But previous superpowers did not have things like nukes, hypersonic missiles, precision guided munitions, cyber attack capability, subs, aircraft carriers, bombers etc. like we do today.
              Only time will tell.
              However, I would not put it past our nitwit leaders to do something incredibly dumb to try to maintain the US/West uni-polar world.

              1. The US military has had an issue for nearly a decade: Finding physically fit, able bodied young males to recruit without legal or drug issues. As a result, the DoD is lowering standards or getting waivers. How effective is a fighting force if they get cut off from their ADD Rx?
                Conservative families with long military history are not showing up to the recruiting offices like they used to.

              2. The US uni-polar world wasn’t bad. It helped most countries and even countries like China derived benefit. I am not saying that is how things should or can be. Today we are not in a uni-polar world, and are creating a multi-polar one.

                What does it look like in the middle east? Iran is moving toward obtaining nuclear weapons. They have said they will use them against Israel, but they also are at near-war with Saudi Arabia and America (Note what Iran is doing in South America). The chances of a nuclear war if Iran has an adequate bomb and delivery system will likely lead to a nuclear holocaust in the mid east. I think there will be a war before that occurs. That is the result of a multi-polar world.

        2. hullbobby – you have exposed deep fissures in the views of the conservative commentators on this blog. Although your heart is in the right place, I think your analysis is too hawkish. We have diminished, and diminishing, resources. We can’t do everything we want to do. Ukraine should be seen as Europe’s problem. The combined population and economic power of the western bloc far exceeds that of Russia. If those countries want to, they can easilty defeat Russia. On the other hand, the Taiwanese and Japanese have no one to look to for support except each other and the USA. We should defend them to the full extent our economy permits, short of the intervention of troops. The survival of Japan is so important that we should provide them with nuclear capability if they seek it.

  15. Erdogan is a THUG, DICTATOR, and BULLY. He runs a corrupt gov’t. He visions himself as the second coming of the Sultan of the Ottoman empire, which has been labeled in the past and now the SICK MAN of Europe. Erdogan is a Genocide Denier of Turkey’s/Ottoman Empire past against the Armenians, Greeks, Syrians, Kurds. He seeks to rebuild the failed Ottoman Empire.

  16. I think it is past time to ditch all these global alliances. The United Nations, NATO- they served their purpose when they were formed but have morphed in to useless bloated organizations, corrupt and powerful

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