Turkey’s Concerns About Finland and Sweden Joining NATO Are Legitimate: Stoltenberg

The NATO Secretary-General said Ankara’s objections over terrorism and other issues must be taken seriously

Objections from Turkey have stalled membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for Finland and Sweden. On Sunday, Sectary-General Jen Stoltenberg said Ankara’s concerns about terrorism were legitimate.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Finland and Sweden support members of the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). Ankara claims the PKK is a terror group and has fought a multi-decade insurgency against the country’s Kurdish minority.

During a meeting with Finland’s president, Stoltenberg weighed in on Turkey’s concerns. “These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism and about weapons exports. And we have to understand and remember that no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey,” he said.

Secretary-General Stoltenberg laid out why Ankara was an essential member of the alliance. He pointed out, Turkey’s "strategic geographic location" on the Black Sea. He added, "We also need to take into account that no other NATO ally hosts more refugees than Turkey.”

Helsinki and Stockholm submitted applications to join NATO last month. Stoltenberg and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have repeatedly expressed that Sweden and Finland would become alliance members in short order. However, to join NATO, a country must receive support from all member states, and Ankara has placed a roadblock in the membership process.

Recent developments in Stockholm have made it less likely that Ankara’s concerns will be resolved. To survive the vote, Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats needed the support of Amineh Kakabaveh, an independent MP of Kurdish-Iranian heritage. Kakabaveh’s vote gave the Social Democrats a majority. After the vote said the Swedish government gave her assurances that they wouldn’t cave to Turkey’s demands regarding Kurdish militant groups.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.