NATO chief urges Turkey to let Nordic pair join quickly

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday urged Turkey to ratify the applications of Finland and Sweden to join the military organization, repeating his claim that the Nordic neighbors have done enough to satisfy Ankara’s demands that they crack down on extremism.

At a news conference in Ankara standing alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Stoltenberg also condemned the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, at a protest in Sweden but he said that this is not illegal in Europe.

Alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, Finland and neighboring Sweden abandoned decades of nonalignment and applied to join the alliance. All 30 NATO members approved their applications, and 28 have ratified their accession. Only Turkey and Hungary have failed to do so.

Stoltenberg and most allies have long said that both the Nordic neighbors should join at the same time, but in recent days NATO’s top civilian official has soften his stance amid Turkey’s reluctance to ratify Sweden’s accession.