The former ambassador to Turkey, “the burning of the Koran could have been avoided, issue weighs on the electoral campaign”
Burning the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm further hardened the position of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and “allowed him to raise the price” of his veto on Sweden’s entry into NATO, as evidenced by the announced halt to negotiations. Although there is now a “deadlock” phase also due to the political elections due to be held on May 14 in Turkey, the entry will take place “in a more distant perspective”. This is what the former Italian ambassador to Turkey, Carlo Marsili, claims in an interview with Adnkronos, according to whom the burning of the Koran “perhaps could have been avoided” or “diverted” to another place than the Turkish embassy. In any case, Erdogan, who was “in difficulty” in convincing Stockholm to hand over a certain number of Kurdish activists, seized the opportunity and – reasons Marsili – is exploiting the issue for his own electoral interests.
“These are episodes that must be seen in the light of Turkish internal politics. We have in fact entered the electoral campaign and nationalist and religious elements are pressing Erdogan to prove himself adamant about the requests he has made – is the ambassador’s interpretation – A all the more so after an episode that is seen as an outrage in Turkish religious circles”.
According to Marsili, the burning of the Koran has consolidated a “stalemate” between Ankara and Stockholm from which “it is becoming increasingly difficult to get out”, but in “a more distant perspective I don’t think Turkey will really want to block the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO “. On timing, the ambassador believes it “very difficult” that it could happen before the vote “unless there are really steps on the part of Sweden that allow Erdogan to remove the veto, therefore the delivery of a significant number of elements deemed terrorist by Ankara”, while “after the elections things change” because Erdogan, if he were to win, “would have much freer hands”.
Marsili then highlights how the question of the burning of the Koran and the entry of the two Scandinavian countries into NATO has “a certain weight” in the electoral campaign in Turkey, where foreign policy, unlike what happens in the West, “has more importance because the nationalist element takes over”.
Even the dispute with Greece or the Syrian question are presented as national defense issues, concludes the ambassador, according to which “the religious factor must be added to this dimension which weighs on a certain type of electorate. Since the elections are absolutely hanging in the balance , with the president given recovery, Erdogan plays a lot on the issue”.