The NATO Secretary General considered Turkey's fears about the entry of Finland and Sweden into the alliance legitimate. Negotiations with Turkey will continue in order to find “a common path forward”, he assured
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had no reason to believe that Turkey would take a hard line when he promised Finland and Sweden to quickly join the alliance. He spoke about this in an interview with The Financial Times.
“We had no reason to believe that there would be any problems. Turkey's concerns are not new. Turkey— an important ally, and when an ally raises security issues, we must resolve them, — emphasized Stoltenberg.
He called Turkey's concerns about terrorism legitimate. According to him, no NATO ally has suffered from terrorism on such a scale as Ankara. Stoltenberg assured that negotiations with Turkey would continue in order to find “a common path forward.”
At the same time, the NATO Secretary General expressed confidence that it was still possible to overcome the “legitimate” Ankara's fears “within a reasonable time.” “My goal is for Finland and Sweden to become members [of the alliance] as soon as possible,” he concluded.
Helsinki and Stockholm applied to join NATO on 18 May. All member countries must approve them, but Turkey opposed the accession of these northern European countries to the bloc.
Ankara explained its decision by the fact that these countries gave asylum to members of organizations recognized as terrorist in Turkey, — for example, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)— and did not issue them at the request of the Turkish side. In addition, Sweden and Finland imposed sanctions against the republic.
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NATO Secretary General assured that allies, when considering applications from Helsinki and Stockholm, will take into account the concerns of all parties, including Ankara.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson 21 May said that Stockholm “welcomes the possibility of cooperation in the fight against international terrorism.” and supports the inclusion of the PKK in the list of terrorists. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto spoke about his readiness to guarantee Ankara that links with the PKK will be more closely monitored, but stressed that Helsinki cannot extradite people associated with the party without justice.
The President Russia Vladimir Putin said that the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO would not create an immediate threat to Moscow, but in the event of an expansion of the military infrastructure of the alliance, the Russian side would take retaliatory actions.
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