NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged Türkiye on Nov. 3 to set aside its reservations over Finland and Sweden’s efforts to join the military alliance, insisting the Nordic neighbors have done enough to satisfy Ankara’s concerns about their membership.
Finland and Sweden applied for membership of the world’s biggest security alliance in the months after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February. In doing so, they abandoned longstanding policies of military nonalignment out of concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin might target them next.
But Türkiye, which joined NATO in 1952, is still not ready to endorse them after trilateral talks, as it wants them to extradite PKK and FETÖ terrorists.
“Finland and Sweden have delivered on their commitment to Türkiye. They have become strong partners in our joint fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Istanbul after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
“It’s time to welcome Finland and Sweden as full members of NATO. Their accession will make our alliance stronger and our people safer,” Stoltenberg said. “In these dangerous times, it’s even more important to finalize their accession, to prevent any misunderstanding or miscalculation in Moscow.”
However, Çavuşoğlu said the schedule for accepting them as new members would depend on when Türkiye’s demands, agreed upon in a joint memorandum, were fulfilled. The 10-article memorandum was unveiled ahead of a NATO summit in June.
“These two countries must take important steps on combating terror because one of the biggest threats NATO is facing today is terrorism,” the Turkish minister said.
“It’s not possible to say right now that the two countries have completely implemented all aspects of the memorandum,” he added, while stressing that Türkiye supports NATO’s enlargement.
Çavuşoğlu said Türkiye sees the new government in Sweden as “more determined” to fulfill the memorandum signed in Madrid. The new Swedish prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, is scheduled to visit Ankara on Nov 8, he said.
“I recognize your concerns. At the same time, it is clear Finland and Sweden have delivered on the memorandum and are committed to the long-term partnership with Türkiye,” the former Norwegian prime minister told Çavuşoğlu.
Çavuşoğlu also underlined that Türkiye doesn’t have any major issues with Finland but because the Nordic countries want their membership process to go in tandem, the two were receiving the “same treatment” from Ankara.
All 30 NATO member countries must officially ratify the accession protocol for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. Only the parliaments of Türkiye and Hungary have yet to do so.
Hurriyet Daily News