‘Time to welcome Finland and Sweden’: NATO chief urges Turkey


Istanbul: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that Sweden and Finland have fulfilled their commitments to Turkey and should be allowed entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Finland and Sweden applied for membership in the world’s largest security alliance shortly after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

“It is time to welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of NATO,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference in Istanbul with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, reports Xinhua.

“Their accession will make our alliance stronger and our people safer,” he added, noting the readiness of Finland and Sweden to work more closely with Turkey to fight terrorism.

Turkey was the only member of NATO, which openly opposed the accession of Helsinki and Stockholm. Erdogan accused countries of harboring Kurdish militants, whom Ankara classifies as “terrorists”.

Turkey has repeatedly emphasized that Finland and Sweden should take “concrete steps” to ease its concerns, including signing extradition protocols and lifting sanctions on the Turkish defense industry.

The report stated that Stoltenberg aims to speed up the ratification process by Turkey during his three-day visit, during which he will also hold meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

In response to the NATO chief’s concerns, Cavusoglu stated that the two Scandinavian countries had not fulfilled all their commitments and that more steps were needed to be taken by them.

“Some steps have already been taken…But it is impossible to say that these two countries have been fully implemented,” he said, adding that it is not our intention to prevent (NATO) expansion, we just don’t want to see concrete steps.

All 30 NATO member states must formally ratify the Accession Protocol for Finland and Sweden to join the Alliance. Only the parliaments of Turkey and Hungary have not yet done so.

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