NATO chief: Sweden ready to address Turkish security fears

STOCKHOLM (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday he was “glad” that the Swedish government has confirmed its “readiness to address Turkey’s concerns as part of assuming the obligations of future NATO membership.”

After decades of military non-alignment, Russia’s war in Ukraine pushed Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO in May. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, accuses the Nordic nations of supporting Kurdish militants deemed by Turkey to be terrorists and has vetoed their entry into the alliance until they change their policies.

Sweden is taking “the Turkish concerns very seriously” and “not at least their security concerns when it comes to the fight against terrorism,” said Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and added that her “ambition is that we should have these matters resolved.”

Stoltenberg said Sweden “has already started to change its counter-terrorism legislation” and that the Scandinavian country “will ensure that the legal framework for arms exports will reflect their future status as a NATO member with new commitments to allies.”

“These are two important steps to address the concerns that Turkey has raised,” he said..

“The aim is to solve those issues as soon as possible, to be able to welcome Finland and Sweden as full members as soon as possible,” he said.

Stoltenberg declined to say whether the matter should be resolved before the NATO summit in Madrid on June 28 or before the Swedish Parliament election on Sept. 11. Sweden and Finland have been invited to attend the meeting in Spain.

After Monday’s talks, Stoltenberg and Andersson went for a boat ride in the lake next to a Swedish government manor southwest of Stockholm.

On Sunday, Stoltenberg met with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in Finland, saying that Turkey has “legitimate concerns” over terrorism and other issues that need to be taken seriously.

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