NATO chief: Sweden and Finland "delivered on what they were supposed to do"
Secretary General of NATO said on Tuesday that Sweden's and Finland's accession to the alliance is now a "top priority," and urged Turkey and Hungary to urgently ratify the Nordic countries' bids for membership.
Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Helsinki that progress is being made on securing membership for the two countries, adding that he is "absolutely confident" that both Finland and Sweden will become members of NATO.
"My message has been for a long time that time has come to finalize the ratification process. The time is now to ratify in both Budapest and in Ankara," Stoltenberg said.
Turkey and Hungary are the remaining two NATO members who are yet to approve Stockholm's and Helsinki's bids for NATO membership, and Turkey set conditions in the context of a trilateral deal last June.
Ankara accuses Sweden of "harboring terrorists" and says it will give green light only on condition that Swedish authorities crack down harder on Kurdish political activists allegedly affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and hand them over to Turkey, stop providing support for Kurdish militia in Northern Syria, and lifts arms embargoes imposed on Turkey after its occupation of parts of Syria in 2019.
Stoltenberg said that Finland and Sweden fully meet NATO's entry criteria and "have delivered on what they were supposed to do" after they applied to join the alliance in May.
Finland's Marin hinted that slowing down the accession process for the two countries risked eroding NATO’s credibility and its open door policy for new members.