NATO chief says ‘time to welcome’ Finland, Sweden

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NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday Sweden and Finland were committed to working with Turkey to address its concerns ahead of their possible membership in the alliance, saying it was time to welcome them.

“It’s time to welcome Finland and Sweden as members of NATO,” he told a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul.

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Erdogan has accused Finland and Sweden in particular of providing shelter to outlawed Kurdish militants deemed “terrorists” by Ankara.

“I recognie your concerns,” the NATO chief said, adding that Finland and Sweden were keen to working closer with Turkey to fight “terrorism.”

“It’s also in their interest,” he said.

In June, Turkey, Sweden and Finland struck a deal which included provisions on extraditions and sharing information.

The two Nordic nations earlier this year ditched their longstanding policies of non-alignment, asking to join NATO because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and how it reshaped Europe’s security.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also accepted a request from Sweden’s new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to visit Turkey as Stockholm struggles to overcome Ankara's blocking of its NATO bid.

Kristersson is due to visit Ankara on Tuesday.

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