Sweden and Finland‘s NATO application will be addressed during the Madrid summit next week, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
“We will address Sweden and Finland‘s historic applications for NATO membership, ensuring that the security interests of all allies are addressed, while making progress in their accession process,” Stoltenberg said during a joint news conference with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala in Brussels.
Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But they have faced opposition from Turkey, which has been angered by what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for Kurdish militants and arms embargoes on Ankara.
“Turkey has legitimate security concerns and we are working to resolve those with Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg said.
“We hope that the dispute with Turkey will be solved as soon as possible, it’s very important for the security of Europe,” Fiala said during the news conference.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels earlier this week following their talks with top representatives from Sweden, Finland and NATO, Turkey’s senior officials said the NATO summit was not a deadline.
Any progress on the Nordic members bids “now depends on the direction and speed at which these countries will take steps,” Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said.
NATO leaders will convene in Madrid on June 29-30. Any NATO membership requires approval of all 30 members of the alliance. Turkey has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance’s second-largest army.