Türkiye’s security concerns about the NATO membership bids of Sweden and Finland are legitimate, the alliance’s chief reiterated on Sunday.
"These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it's about weapons exports," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a joint news conference during a visit to Finland alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
"We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye,” he added, referring to attacks by the PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) – the group behind a 2016 defeated coup – and Daesh/ISIS, among other terror groups.
Stressing that Türkiye has been a key ally for the alliance owing in part to its strategic location on the Black Sea between Europe and the Middle East, Stoltenberg pointed to its support for Ukraine since Russia launched its war on Feb. 24.
He furthermore praised the Turkish contribution to the war against the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS and work to get Ukrainian grain exports to world markets.
When a critical ally like Türkiye shares our concerns on terrorism, we should take this into serious consideration, Stoltenberg said.
Niinisto, for his part, stressed the importance of keeping dialogue channels open with Türkiye to reach a solution.
Arguing that Finland’s stance on Türkiye’s concerns over terrorism is no different from other NATO allies, he said he said he was having a hard time understanding why Finland was “picked out.”
Russia’s war on Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to formally apply to join NATO on May 18.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups such as the PKK/YPG, as well as for weapons embargos against Türkiye.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the European Union, and the US, is responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the terrorist group PKK’s Syrian branch.