According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the dispute with Turkey over Sweden and Finland joining NATO could drag on for some time. “I want this problem to be solved as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said on Sunday in Finland after a meeting with President Sauli Niinistö. However, this is unlikely to happen before the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month.

Stoltenberg had previously said that the two Nordic countries’ applications for membership would be welcomed “with open arms”. However, Turkey thwarted a rapid expansion of the military alliance and has since blocked the admission of the two northern countries. Any agreement to join NATO must be approved unanimously by its members.

Ankara accuses Finland and Sweden of providing “terrorists” with the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), in particular. The two countries repeatedly expressed surprise at these objections. According to Stockholm and Helsinki, Ankara had even signaled support for their accession efforts before submitting their applications for membership.