HELSINKI -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated Sunday that Turkey has "legitimate concern" about terrorism and other matters that should be taken seriously.
Turkey accuses Finland and Sweden of supporting Kurdish militants. It says it won't back the Nordic countries joining NATO until these nations change their policies.
Stoltenberg, speaking at a news conference jointly with Finnish President Sauli Nieisto, stressed that no NATO ally has been subject to more terrorist attacks than Turkey and pointed out its strategic geographical location relative to neighbors like Syria and Iraq.
These are legitimate concerns. Stoltenberg stated that this is not about terrorism but about weapons exports. "We must address security concerns of all allies including Turkish concerns regarding the terrorist group PKK.
He spoke at Finland’s presidential summer residence Kultaranta, in western Finland.
After decades of military nonalignment, Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced Finland and Sweden into applying to NATO membership in May. Recep Tayyip Erdan, Turkey's President, has vetoed the entry of the Nordic countries into the alliance. He accuses them of supporting terrorist Kurdish militants.
Ankara, Helsinki and Stockholm demand that Turkey lift restrictions on arms exports and expel members of Kurdish groups that oppose Erdogan's government.
NATO's chief tried to resolve the dispute over the past few weeks but did not reveal Sunday whether any progress had been made.
Later Sunday, he was due to attend an annual panel discussion in Kultaranta with Finnish and Nordic politicians as well as foreign and security policy experts as well military representatives.
Stoltenberg will be visiting Sweden Monday to meet with Magdalena Andersson, the Swedish Prime Minister.
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