NATO in close contact with Finland, Sweden, Turkey: Stoltenberg
Turkey’s approval of Finland and Sweden’s application to join the Western military alliance is crucial because NATO makes decisions by consensus. Each of its 30 member countries has the power to veto a membership bid.
“We have told our relevant friends we would say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden’s entry into NATO, and we will continue on our path like this,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Turkish youths in a video for Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day, a national holiday.
Ankara is objecting to their membership over security concerns, accusing them of supporting terror groups.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a Thursday visit to Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, he was ”confident that we will come to a quick decision to welcome both Sweden and Finland to join the NATO family.”
“We are addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed, because when an important ally (like) Turkey raises security concerns, raises issues, then of course the only way to deal with that is to sit down and find common ground,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
U.S. President Joe Biden met the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Thursday in Washington and expressed full support for their membership.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said his government was open to discussing Turkey’s concerns.
“As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey‘s security, just as Turkey will commit to our security. We take terrorism seriously,” he said.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said her government was reaching out to Turkey and other NATO nations “to sort out any issues.”
Finland and Sweden officially applied to join the world’s biggest security organization on Wednesday. A first meeting of NATO ambassadors to discuss their applications failed to reach a consensus. For the moment, no new meeting of NATO ambassadors is yet planned.
Erdoğan says Turkey’s objections stem from its security concerns and grievances with Sweden’s _ and to a lesser degree Finland’s _ support of the PKK terror organization.
Asked whether Finland might get admitted before Sweden, Stoltenberg replied: “We handled this as one process, and we are working with this as one process.”
Erdoğan’s ruling party spokesman, Ömer Çelik, said Thursday they had proof that Swedish weapons were showing up in PKK hands, while also warning the United States and France for “giving to the group that kills my country’s citizens.” If NATO is to expand, Çelik argued, then potential members must “cut off their support to terror groups.”
Turkish officials, including the president, also have pointed to arms restrictions on Turkey as a reason for Ankara’s opposition to the two countries becoming part of NATO.