NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday sought to underscore the alliance’s appreciation of Turkey as an “important ally.”
He offered the conciliatory words to Ankara ahead of a planned gathering of senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey in Brussels next week to discuss Turkey’s opposition to the Nordic countries joining the defense alliance.
Stoltenberg made the comments to reporters after meeting with President Joe Biden and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House for what was billed as preparatory talks for the Madrid NATO Summit to be held this month.
Stoltenberg said he discussed Sweden and Finland’s application to join NATO with Biden and Sullivan and expressed confidence that the alliance would find a path to addressing Ankara’s concerns. But Stoltenberg also seemed to go out of his way to note Turkey’s value to the alliance.
“I think we need to also recognize that Turkey is an important ally. Turkey contributes to our security in many different ways,” said Stoltenberg, who noted the country’s Turkey’s efforts at countering Islamic State militants.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted Finland and Sweden must show more respect for Turkish sensitivities about terrorism since the countries filed their NATO applications. He is refusing to budge over what he says is their alleged support for Kurdish militants. [AP]