NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that there was “no way to say” when Sweden and Finland will officially join the military alliance, with Turkey maintaining its opposition to the move.
“First, on the issue of when. As soon as possible. And that's the reason why we're working so hard,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference in Sweden about efforts to proceed with Sweden and Finland joining the military alliance.
“But, of course, when several nations are involved in those talks, there is no way to say exactly when we will be able to solve and find a joint way to move forward on those issues. ... Our aim is to make it, to find the solution as soon as possible,” he added.
Stoltenberg's remarks came during his trip to Finland to meet with President Sauli Niinistö. He also traveled to Sweden to meet with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
Turkey has objected to the two countries' efforts to join the alliance, which would require unanimous agreement from all 30 NATO member states.
“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously said.
Turkey's opposition is largely due to what it characterizes as Sweden's support for groups considered terrorists by Turkey, such as Kurdish militants.
Niinistö has responded to Turkey's concerns, saying, "As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey‘s security, just as Turkey will commit to our security. We take terrorism seriously.”
Stoltenberg called Sweden's application "historic" and "the right decision" on Monday.
“It's good for Sweden, it's good for Europe, it's good for NATO, and it's good for trans-Atlantic unity, and, therefore, I do whatever I can to make sure that we are able to welcome Finland and Sweden as soon as possible,” he said.
Both countries applied to join NATO amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and a sharp increase in public support within their countries for joining the Western alliance.
Asked about the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month, the secretary general said it should not be seen as any sort of deadline.
"The Madrid summit was never a deadline, but, at the same time, we are working to find the solution as soon as possible," Stoltenberg added on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week easily passed a resolution pressing NATO to bring the countries into the alliance promptly.
In May, President Biden also voiced support for the move during a meeting with Andersson and Niinistö, saying that Sweden's and Finland’s membership would enhance the alliance.
“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries, and strong and transparent economies, and a strong and moral sense of what is right,” Biden said at the time. “They meet every NATO requirement and then some.”