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NATO chief Stoltenberg says Turkiye's security concerns are legitimate

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Belgium on 6 April 2022 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, Belgium on 6 April 2022 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Security concerns raised by Turkiye in its opposition to Finland's and Sweden's NATO membership applications are legitimate, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday during a visit to Finland, Reuters reports.

"These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it's about weapons exports," Stoltenberg told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto while visiting him at his summer residence in Naantali, Finland.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western defence alliance last month, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But they have faced opposition from Turkiye, which has accused them of supporting and harbouring Kurdish militants and other groups it deems terrorists.

Stoltenberg said Turkiye was a key ally for the alliance due to its strategic location on the Black Sea between Europe and the Middle East, and cited the support it has provided to Ukraine since Russia sent troops into its neighbour on Feb. 24. Moscow calls its actions a "special military operation".

"We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkiye," Stoltenberg said, using the Turkish pronunciation of the country's name, as preferred by Turkiye and its President Tayyip Erdogan.

Stoltenberg and Niinisto said talks with Turkiye would continue but gave no indication of progress in the negotiations.

"The summit in Madrid was never a deadline," Stoltenberg said, referring to a NATO meeting in Madrid at the end of June.

READ: Sweden seeks constructive progress with Turkiye over NATO bid

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Europe & RussiaFinlandInternational OrganisationsNATONewsSwedenTurkey
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