Nato chief says he had ‘no cause to consider’ Turkey would block Nordic membership

Nato’s secretary-general insisted he had “no cause to consider” Turkey would block Finland and Sweden’s bids to hitch the army alliance when he promised the Nordic international locations a fast accession course of in April.

Jens Stoltenberg instructed the Monetary Occasions that it was nonetheless attainable to beat Ankara’s “reliable” issues over terrorism and arms gross sales “inside an affordable time”.

The previous Norwegian prime minister added: “Earlier within the course of, we had no causes to consider there can be any issues. The Turkish issues will not be new. Türkiye is a vital ally, and when an ally raises safety issues, we’ve to handle them.”

Nato officers promised Finland and Sweden that the primary stage of their Nato bid would solely take one or two weeks, earlier than Turkey raised objections over terrorism and help for the Kurds simply as the 2 Nordic nations utilized final month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly hit out at Sweden and Finland, calling them “guesthouses” for terrorists and demanding that their Nato purposes be blocked.

Finnish and Swedish ministers have spoken about toughening their anti-terrorism legal guidelines and probably easing the factors for Turkish arms gross sales as soon as they’re Nato members. However officers from each international locations have additionally complained that it’s arduous to pin the Turks down when it comes to their precise calls for.

Requested if his personal credibility was on the road after he instructed Finland and Sweden their ratification can be fast, Stoltenberg repeated that he had “no cause to consider at the moment” there can be any issues.

Finnish president Sauli Niinistö has additionally mentioned that in an April dialog with Erdoğan the Turkish president assured him any Nato bid can be considered favourably.

Stoltenberg mentioned on Monday: “My objective is to have Finland and Sweden as members as quickly as attainable. It might probably nonetheless be fast in contrast with different accession processes.”

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He mentioned there was no deadline to resolve the problem by Nato’s summit in Madrid on the finish of June, which many had seen as a second for the defence alliance to formally welcome its new candidates.

Turkey’s issues appear much less directed at Finland than Sweden, which has a major Kurdish inhabitants and whose authorities has twice survived solely because of a take care of a Swedish-Kurdish MP that features help for a gaggle that Erdoğan calls terrorists.

“The Turkish issues on terrorism are reliable. As a result of no Nato ally has suffered extra terrorist assaults than Türkiye . . . We’ll sit down with Türkiye and discover a widespread approach ahead,” Stoltenberg mentioned, utilizing the title for the nation favoured by Erdoğan.

He additionally praised Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister whom he’ll go to in a while Monday, for “Swedish readiness to handle Türkiye’s issues” by amending anti-terror legal guidelines and suggesting arms gross sales to Ankara might be made simpler.

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Niinistö appeared to point on Sunday that Finland wouldn’t abandon Sweden ought to its neighbour run into difficulties with its Nato bid, stressing that “Sweden’s trigger is ours”.