Security concerns raised by Turkey in its opposition to Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership applications are legitimate, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday during a visit to Finland.
“These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it’s about weapons exports,” Stoltenberg told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto while visiting him at his summer residence in Naantali,
Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western defence alliance last month, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But they have faced opposition from Turkey, which has accused them of supporting and harbouring Kurdish militants and other groups it deems terrorists.
Stoltenberg said Turkey was a key ally for the alliance due to its strategic location on the Black Sea between Europe and the Middle East, and cited the support it has provided to Ukraine since Russia sent troops into its neighbour on Feb. 24. Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation”.
“We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkiye,” Stoltenberg said, using the Turkish pronunciation of the country’s name, as preferred by Turkey and its President Tayyip Erdogan, Reuters reported.
Stoltenberg’s statements angered – not only – Greeks and Cypriots who lashed out at him on social media.
NATO chief @jensstoltenberg says Turkey's security concerns are legitimate❗️
What a disgrace the SG of NATO to act as spokesperson of bully Erdogan justifying his inexcusable blackmail of NATO instead to support the democracies of Finland 🇫🇮 & Sweden 🇸🇪 https://t.co/QXFfMkz2B5
— Marios Karatzias (@MariosKaratzias) June 12, 2022
Turkey never complained about border security when ISIS was controlling northern Syria, but it complains when ISIS enemies, the Syrian Kurds, started to control some of the areas they’re been living on for the last 4000 years. #Turkey hired former ISIS members as mercenaries
— Mike Kevrekidis (@Makis_Kevrekidi) June 12, 2022
Stotemberg is not accountable to electorates
He represents a military alliance that seeks the interest of the U.S. military industrial complex mainly
His are mere platitudes on the concern of Turkey
— D Thomas (@DThomas27855520) June 12, 2022
The silly mollycoddling of 🇹🇷's bogus claims will only produce more brazen demands. What is truly legitimate is NATO members' growing concern with 🇹🇷's authoritarian and expansionist slide, as well as 🇹🇷's de facto support of 🇷🇺 through the vetoing of exemplary democracies 🇫🇮🇸🇪.
— Amman Kuzum / Αμάν Κουζούμ (@AmanYavroum) June 12, 2022
what does @jensstoltenberg say about #Turkey preparing the ground for an invasion of #Greece? Is that also a "legitimate concern"?
— Georg von Karajan (@GeorgVKarajan) June 12, 2022
So far there has been no reaction by official Greece that sees its sovereignty being violated by Turkish fighter jets much too frequently and is being confronting with Erdogan’s expansionism and threats day in, day out and goes even that far to question the Greek sovereignty of big islands such as Chios, Lesvos and Samos.
Ps Someone asked whether the Greek FM picked up the phone and asked Stoltenberg for “clarifications.” Answer is: No, he didn’t and probably won’t.