NATO seeks to allay Turkey’s concerns about Sweden and Finland

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The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg said that Turkey is an important ally and that dialogue will be held with it to dispel its concerns about Sweden and Finland’s membership in the alliance.

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This came during a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Birbock on Sunday, following the informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.

Stoltenberg indicated that the decision to join NATO is up to Sweden and Finland and the alliance will respect their decision because all sovereign countries have the right to choose their own path.

He stated that Sweden and Finland are the closest partners to NATO, and if they decide to apply for membership, this will be a historic moment.

And he added: “Their membership in NATO will enhance our common security and will show that the doors of NATO are open and that aggression is futile.”

He explained that Turkey had expressed some concerns about the two countries joining the alliance.

He said NATO members always sit at the table when there are concerns.

It was confident that common ground and consensus could be found on how to work on the issue of membership.

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Stoltenberg indicated that he held a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the Berlin meeting.

“I hope we can move forward quickly if Finland and Sweden apply for membership,” he added.

He continued, “Turkey has said that its intention is not to prevent membership, so I am confident that we can allay the concerns expressed by Turkey in a way that does not delay the accession process.”

Stoltenberg considered that Sweden and Finland have the necessary qualifications for NATO membership.

And on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in statements from Berlin that Sweden and Finland provide “very public support” to the terrorist PKK organization and (its Syrian arm) the YPG, despite all warnings, which reflects negatively on the feelings of the Turkish people.

On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed Turkey’s reservations about the process of Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

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On Thursday, Finland announced in a joint statement issued by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sana Marin its intention to submit an application to join NATO, followed by Sweden in announcing its intention to do the same.