"No NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye", acknowledged NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, adding that talks with Türkiye would continue.

NATO chief stressed that Türkiye is a key ally for the alliance.
NATO chief stressed that Türkiye is a key ally for the alliance. (Reuters)

Security concerns raised by Türkiye in its objection to Finland's and Sweden's NATO membership applications are legitimate, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

"These are legitimate concerns. This is about terrorism, it's about weapons exports", Stoltenberg told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Sunday during a visit to Finland.

"We have to remember and understand that no NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Türkiye", Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief stressed that Türkiye is a key ally for the alliance due to its strategic location on the Black Sea between Europe and the Middle East.

READ MORE: Türkiye to NATO chief: Our security concerns based on legitimate grounds

Türkiye's security concerns

Stoltenberg and Niinisto said talks with Türkiye would continue but gave no indication of progress in the negotiations.

"The summit in Madrid was never a deadline", Stoltenberg said, referring to a NATO meeting scheduled in Madrid at the end of June.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the Western defence alliance last month, in response to Russia's offensive in Ukraine.

But, Ankara has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticising the two Nordic countries for tolerating and even supporting terror groups such as the PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK - listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US, and the EU - has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Türkiye, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies