NATO chief: Turkey has ‘legitimate concerns’ over terrorism
HELSINKI- The Associated Press
Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden of supporting the PKK terrorists and says it will not back the two Nordic nati-ons joining NATO until they change their policies.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Stoltenberg stressed that “no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey” and pointed to its strategic geographic location with neighbors like Iraq and Syria.
“These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports,” Stoltenberg said. “We have to add-ress the security concerns of all allies, including Turkish concerns about the terrorist group PKK.”
He spoke at Finland’s presidential summer residence Kultaranta in western Finland.
After decades of military non-alignment, Russia’s war in Ukraine pushed Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO in May.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, accuses the Nordic nations of supporting the PKK terrorists and has vetoed their entry into the 30-member alliance.
“When a vital key ally as Turkey raises concerns on terrorism then of course we have to sit down and take them seriously. And that’s exactly what we do,” Stoltenberg said.
The demands from Ankara to Helsinki and Stockholm also include lifting restrictions on arms exports to Turkey and extraditing members of certain Kurdish organizations that are opposed to Erdoğan’s government.
In the past weeks, NATO’s chief has been trying to resolve the dispute but he did not disclose on June 12 whether any progress has been made.
He was to attend an annual discussion panel in Kultaranta later June 12 together with Finnish and Nordic politicians, foreign and security policy experts and military representatives.
Stoltenberg will visit Sweden on Monday for talks with the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.