Turkey’s security problems regarding Nordic membership offers are legitimate and must be addressed, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.
At a joint press conference with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid, Stoltenberg said that “no ally has suffered more in the hands of terrorists … including serious attacks from the terrorist group PKK.”
The NATO chief said the alliance should redouble its efforts in the fight against terrorism, and a special session dedicated to NATO’s efforts against terrorism will be convened during the summit in the Spanish capital.
“We are now working together on an agreement between Sweden, Finland and our ally Türkiye to further address security issues, including on arms exports and the fight against terrorism,” said Stoltenberg.
He said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson had agreed to meet on Tuesday at the summit.
“It will be another opportunity to address Turkey’s concerns and move forward with NATO accession for Finland and Sweden,” he added.
Sweden, together with Finland, formally applied to join NATO last month, a decision spurred on by Russia’s war against Ukraine, which began on 24 February.
But Türkiye, a longtime member of the alliance, has objected to the membership offers and criticized the countries for tolerating and even supporting the terrorist groups.
Andersson, for his part, said that “our position regarding the PKK is crystal clear. It is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and is considered as such by Sweden.”
“Sweden condemns terrorism in the strongest possible way. We are unequivocally committed to the fight against terrorists in all its forms and manifestations, “she added.
In its more than 35-year-old terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people.
Swedish, Finnish and Turkish officials met in Brussels on Monday, said the Swedish Prime Minister and expressed “strong hope that the dialogue can be completed successfully in the near future.”
“Sweden will contribute to the security of NATO as a whole, including Turkey, in a spirit of solidarity,” she said.
Andersson said that she spoke with the Turkish president on Saturday and that the conversation was “good and constructive”.
To continue Sweden’s efforts in the fight against terrorism, the Prime Minister said that “constitutional amendments are being prepared, which would pave the way for the criminalization of participation in terrorist organizations.”
– There should be no doubt that Sweden will continue to stand by other like-minded countries in the fight against terrorists, she added.
Türkiye’s request for extradition of terrorists is “handled quickly and carefully” by the Swedish legal system, in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition, Andersson said.
“Sweden is not and will not be a refuge for terrorists, the relevant authorities are working intensively to deport people who may pose a security threat. And there are a large number of cases that are currently being processed,” said the Prime Minister.