Stoltenberg: “‘Time is now for Turkey to approve Finland, Sweden joining NATO”

Stoltenberg: “‘Time is now for Turkey to approve Finland, Sweden joining NATO”
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NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that “the time is now to ratify both Finland and Sweden” as new members of the alliance

Speaking during a joint news conference in Ankara with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said the main issue is not whether the NATO bid of Sweden and Finland are ratified together, but that their ratification comes “as soon as possible.”

Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year but Turkey has expressed reluctance, particularly about Sweden, accusing its government of being too lenient toward groups that Turkey considers terror organizations.

Stoltenberg said that both Sweden and Finland have implemented policies that recognize the concerns that Turkey has expressed, and that terrorism would be a major topic at a NATO summit in July.

“This is a Turkish decision,” he said. “It’s the Turkish government, the Turkish parliament that decides on the issue of ratification.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey could evaluate the two bids separately.

Stoltenberg’s visit came 10 days after Turkey was hit by a massive earthquake that has claimed over 35,000 lives across the country's southeast.

"In your time of need, NATO stands with Turkey," Stoltenberg said about the disaster.