NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Monday has released a statement that aspiring NATO member Sweden had made significant efforts to overcome Turkey’s objections to its membership.
Sweden is adapting its laws on anti-terrorism and working on an arms embargo that the country has with Turkey, Stoltenberg stated. Moreover, the NATO Secretary-General stressed that the country is safer today than before it applied for membership.
Both Sweden and Finland wish to join as quickly as possible. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the countries believe that they will be safer within the military alliance rather than under its longstanding neutral position outside of it.
However, Turkey has raised objections to the accession of Sweden, citing its perceived support to the Kurdish PKK group, considered a terrorist group by Turkey as well as the EU.
Ankara claims this group is a threat to its security and wants Stockholm to impose tougher measures against the Kurdish PKK and the Gülen movement. In addition, Ankara wants Swedish restrictions on arms trade with Turkey to be lifted.
Earlier, Stoltenberg described Turkish concern as “legitimate”.
“I welcome the fact that Sweden has already started to amend its anti-terrorism legislation and that it is ensuring that the legislation on arms exports reflects its future status as a member of Nato, with new obligations to allies,” the Secretary-General said at a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
“These are two important steps to address the concerns expressed by Turkey.”
“We take Turkey’s concerns very seriously, including security concerns in the fight against terrorism,” the Swedish Prime Minister said.