The Turkish government has “legitimate concerns” over agreeing to admit Sweden and Finland into NATO, the security alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Finland on Sunday.
“These are legitimate concerns, this is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports,” said Stoltenberg alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. “We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey.”
Sweden and Finland both applied to join the security alliance in May following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But Turkey has since said it opposes the accession of the two countries as it accuses them of supporting terrorist groups, including a Kurdish militant organization that both the U.S. and the EU have also labeled a terrorist group.
According to local media, Niinistö said that Turkey’s opposition was a surprise to him during the meeting with Stoltenberg at his summer retreat outside the city of Turku.
While Stoltenberg said during a press conference that the two Nordic countries were “right” to apply to join NATO, he added that a leaders summit in Spain scheduled for the end of this month might not see a resolution in the stand-off over their membership.
“The summit in Madrid was never a deadline,” Stoltenberg said. “At the same time, I would like to see this solved as soon as possible.”