NATO chief welcomes steps taken to address Turkey’s concerns

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday welcomed the steps already taken to address Turkey’s concerns on terrorism after Ankara had voiced reservations on Finland and Sweden’s membership bids due to their support for terrorist groups.

“I welcome the serious steps already taken to address Turkey’s concerns. Our dialogue continues, to find a united way forward,” Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference following the meeting of the seven NATO allies in The Hague, Netherlands.

On the other hand, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on the same day stressed the importance of dialogue and ongoing negotiations with Turkey.

Andersson met with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store in the Swedish city of Sodertalje to discuss regional issues, including Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids.

“We are acting together with Finland. I look forward to continuing the dialogue with Turkey until the problem is solved,” said Andersson, speaking at a joint press conference after the trilateral meeting.

Marin said it is crucial to reach a solution ahead of a NATO summit that will be held at the end of this month in Madrid.

“There is momentum now. It is important that we move forward in this process. We take Turkey’s problems seriously and continue to engage in dialogue,” she said.

The issue was also discussed during a phone call between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Stoltenberg on Tuesday.

Russia’s war on Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to formally apply to join NATO on May 18.

But Turkey, 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 and its Syrian wing YPG, as well as for weapons embargoes against Turkey.

While the two Nordic countries have said talks to resolve the dispute would continue, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said recently that Ankara had not received any responses to its demands, including stopping support for terrorist groups, lifting their arms embargoes on Ankara and extraditing terrorism suspects it seeks.

Any bid to join NATO requires unanimous backing from each of its 30 members.

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