Istanbul, 5 June 2023 (TDI): NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg concluded a successful visit to Istanbul, where he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and members of his new government on Sunday. The meeting served as an opportunity to discuss important matters ahead of the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius in July.
Secretary General Stoltenberg expressed his appreciation for Türkiye’s invaluable contributions to NATO’s peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. He commended Türkiye for promptly reinforcing troops following the recent unrest in northern Kosovo, highlighting the nation’s commitment to promoting stability and peace.
Furthermore, Stoltenberg thanked Türkiye for its continued support in training Iraqi forces and for its contribution of troops to the multinational battlegroup stationed in Hungary.
The Secretary-General also acknowledged Türkiye’s strong backing of Ukraine, including its leadership of the Black Sea grain initiative, which demonstrates Türkiye’s commitment to regional security and cooperation.
In recognition of President Erdogan’s re-election and the impressive turnout among Turkish citizens, Secretary General Stoltenberg extended his congratulations.
In addition, the two leaders engaged in productive discussions regarding various agenda items for the NATO Summit in Vilnius. These topics included continued support for Ukraine, efforts to strengthen deterrence and defense, as well as the ongoing fight against terrorism.
An essential topic of conversation between the Secretary-General and President Erdogan was Sweden’s bid for NATO membership. Stoltenberg noted the significant steps taken by Stockholm to address Turkiye’s concerns, such as amending the Swedish constitution and ending the arms embargo.
He also commended Sweden’s increased cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts, particularly against the PKK. Secretary General Stoltenberg emphasized the importance of countering terrorism and expressed his hope that demonstrations against Türkiye and NATO in Sweden would not hinder vital counter-terrorism cooperation or obstruct Sweden’s accession to the Alliance.
In a joint agreement, Secretary General Stoltenberg and President Erdogan emphasized the importance of the Permanent Joint Mechanism between Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden.
They also announced that the Mechanism would convene again in the week commencing on June 12, underlining their commitment to resolving outstanding matters. Stoltenberg expressed his anticipation for the swift completion of Sweden’s accession process.
Before his visit to Istanbul, Secretary General Stoltenberg attended President Erdogan’s inauguration ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara, where he joined numerous other world leaders in marking the start of President Erdogan’s new term.