By Busra Nur Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) – The NATO secretary-general on Wednesday thanked Türkiye, Finland and Sweden for accepting his invitation “to engage in negotiations to find a united way forward.”
Speaking at a press conference at the NATO summit in Madrid, Jens Stoltenberg called the trilateral agreement between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden that will address Ankara's security concerns "good" for the three countries, as well as NATO.
“Today, NATO leaders took the historic decision to invite Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO. The agreement concluded last night by Türkiye, Finland and Sweden paved the way for this decision,” he said.
“The decision ... demonstrates that NATO's door is open,” said the alliance’s chief, adding: “It demonstrates that President Putin did not succeed in closing NATO’s door.”
Inviting Finland and Sweden for membership also shows that NATO respects the sovereign rights of every nation to choose its own path, Stoltenberg added.
Responding to a question on how long the accession process could take, Stoltenberg said the 30 member states will take the decision to their parliaments, but “there is a strong wheel to work with parliaments so they can do the ratification as soon as possible.”
Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden on Tuesday signed a memorandum following four-way talks in Madrid. The agreement allows the two Nordic countries to become NATO members, but conditions them to take steps on Türkiye's terrorism concerns and lift an arms embargo on Ankara.
It also states that Finland and Sweden will work closely with Türkiye on issues related to exchange of information, extradition and in general the fight against terrorism.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join the alliance last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began in February.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terror groups such as the PKK and its offshoots.
Stoltenberg has constantly said that Türkiye has “legitimate concerns related to their fight against the PKK terrorist group and other organizations,” and that the PKK is considered a terror organization by NATO, the EU, as well as Finland and Sweden.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.