NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Turkey has “legitimate concerns” about terrorism and other issues that need to be taken seriously.
Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden of supporting Kurdish militants and said it would not support the two Nordic countries joining NATO until they changed their policy.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Stoltenberg stressed that “no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey” and highlighted its geographical location. strategic with neighbors such as Iraq and Syria.
“These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, this is about arms exports,” Stoltenberg said. “We must address the security concerns of all allies, including Turkish concerns about the PKK terrorist group.”
He spoke at the Finnish presidential summer residence Kultaranta in western Finland.
After decades of military misalignment, Russia‘s war in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership in May. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, accuses Nordic nations of backing Kurdish militants Turkey considers terrorists and has vetoed their entry into the 30-member alliance.
“When a vital key ally like Turkey raises concerns about terrorism, of course we have to sit up and take them seriously. And that’s exactly what we do,” Stoltenberg said.
Ankara’s demands in Helsinki and Stockholm also include lifting restrictions on arms exports to Turkey and extraditing members of some Kurdish organizations opposed to Erdogan‘s government.
In recent weeks, the NATO chief has tried to resolve the dispute, but he did not reveal on Sunday if any progress had been made.
He was due to attend an annual panel discussion in Kultaranta later on Sunday with Finnish and Nordic politicians, foreign and security policy experts and military representatives.
Stoltenberg will travel to Sweden on Monday for talks with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.