ISTANBUL ( Associated Press) — The NATO chief said Thursday that the dispute over Turkey’s refusal to accept Sweden and Finland’s entry into the alliance would soon be resolved.
Turkey’s approval is essential, since in NATO all decisions must be made by consensus. Each of its 30 member countries has the power to veto the entry of some other nation.
“We have told our relevant friends that we will say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden joining NATO and we will stick to that stance,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message to Turkish youth marking the Day of Atatürk, Youth and Sports, which is a holiday in Turkey.
The entire content of Erdogan’s message, issued on the occasion of the holiday commemorating the start of Turkey’s War of Independence in 1919, is likely to come out on Thursday night. It was not immediately clear when the video was recorded.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday he was “confident that we will reach a swift decision to welcome both Sweden and Finland into the NATO family.”
“We are evaluating the concerns that Turkey has expressed because when an important ally like Turkey expresses concerns, of course the only way to resolve it is to sit down and try to find a consensus,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Finland and Sweden officially applied to join the alliance on Wednesday, but a first meeting of ambassadors from the member countries failed to reach an agreement. At the moment, there is no other ambassadorial meeting planned and most likely there will not be another until Erdogan’s concerns are resolved at a higher diplomatic level.
Erdogan has said that Turkey’s reservations are based on his security concerns and on the perception that Sweden – and to a lesser degree Finland – support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and an armed group in Syria that Turkey considers a wing of the PKK. The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.