NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s remarks about ‘Turkey’s security concerns’ on Sunday led to comments that they signified a green light from NATO for a possible Turkish military campaign against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Stoltenberg said:
“We are working hard with our NATO ally Turkey, Türkiye, and also with Finland and Sweden, to address those issues that Türkiye has raised. And these are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism. It’s about weapons exports. And we have to understand and remember that no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye.”
Turkey has been threatening to block Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO over claims that the two countries, particularly Sweden, have been harbouring ‘terrorists’, and that there are ‘terrorists’ even among the Swedish MPs. Turkey also demands that bans on arms sales to Turkey from the two countries are lifted in order for Turkey to support their accession to NATO.
According to Amed Dicle, a journalist specialising in the region, Stoltenberg’s remarks signify a green light for a fresh incursion into northern Syria that Turkish authorities seek to launch against Kurdish forces, whom they claim are extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
He said in his Webcast on Sunday:
“NATO’s secretary-general acts like a lobbyist for Turkey and he constantly makes statements in support of Turkey. He says Turkey’s security concerns have to be understood. We may interpret his remarks as a green light from NATO to Turkey.”