NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday it was time for Turkey to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership bids. This statement was made in Ankara, during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine last February. Of the 30 NATO member countries, only Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s applications to join the alliance. Remember that the admission of states to the alliance requires the approval of all member countries. Finland and Sweden had hoped for a quick accession process and were taken by surprise by Turkish objections.
In January this year, Ankara made it clear that it could accept Finland joining NATO, without tying itself to Sweden. Ankara’s main claim in Stockholm is that Sweden is home to around 70 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who have been granted political asylum in that country. In Turkey, the PKK is banned and declared a terrorist organization.
On Thursday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called the burning of the Quran a “shameful act” and said the Swedish government had shown it would not accept such actions. “It shows that Sweden and Finland understand Turkey’s concerns and are pursuing policies that take these concerns into account. So I think now is the time to ratify the deal,” he said.
The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry repeated Ankara’s position that the processes for approving Finland’s and Sweden’s candidacies for NATO membership can develop independently of one another. other. While acknowledging that Sweden has changed its terrorism legislation in line with Turkey’s demands, Cavusoglu said these changes must be fully implemented.
Stoltenberg said the fight against terrorism will be one of the main items on the agenda of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023.
After that, the NATO chief held a meeting in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before traveling to the earthquake-affected southern regions of Turkey.
Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock said she expected all NATO members to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s demands without further delay.
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