Erdoğan says ties with non-NATO countries not alternative
Relations Turkey has developed with different countries and regions are “not alternatives to each other, they are complementary,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said May 6 at a meeting of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partners.
“We do not accept the attempt to exacerbate such debate because of the S-400 issue,” he said, referring to the Russian-made anti-missile defense systems that Ankara is purchasing from Moscow amid U.S. objection.
Producing speculations about Turkey’s trend in this issue means “not understanding” the country’s history and its geographical location, he said. “We care that the Mediterranean basin, which we see as the cradle of civilization, is in peace.”
Before addressing the gathering, Erdoğan met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who is paying a two-day visit to Turkey for the 25th anniversary of the Mediterranean Dialogue, where he will chair a North Atlantic Council (NAC) meeting as well. The NATO chief was to meet Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu after the Daily News went press.
In his speech, Erdoğan also called on NATO to take measures against terrorist organizations, in an indirect reference to the YPG in Syria.
“We have only one expectation from our allies. We expect only our allies in NATO to act in accordance with the spirit of the alliance, and to adopt their founding values. We want our allies to take measures against the structures they regard as a terrorist organization.”
“There is no justification for the terrorist organizations being equipped with our allies,” he said, criticizing the welcoming of leaders of these groups by some NATO member countries.
The “legitimate” rights of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean Sea are “unquestionable,” he said, elaborating on recent tension in the region over drilling activities for energy resources.
Turkey is determined to protect its own rights and that of the Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean, said Erdoğan and called for NATO’s support to Turkey to prevent tension in the region.
“Our country may have different views on some issues. But consistent co-operation with common threats is a prerequisite for this alliance,” he added.
The troubles experienced in this region “will give the greatest damage to our alliance, the reputation of the alliance,” he stated.
Çavuşoğlu, Stoltenberg meet
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Stoltenberg also on May 6 met in capital Ankara and discussed NATO-EU relations and Turkey's purchase of S-400 air defense system.
Çavuşoğlu and Stoltenberg gathered at the Çankaya Palace in Ankara on the occasion of NATO's 25th Mediterranean Dialogue meeting.
In a Twitter post, Çavuşoğlu said: "[We] made evaluations on a wide range of issues including NATO-EU relations and Turkey's S-400 purchase. Discussed the preparations of the NATO Heads of State and Government meeting to be held in London."
Speaking at the forum, Stoltenberg said NATO was determined to improve security in the Middle East and North Africa.
Stressing that the world was becoming more complicated and interconnected, he said taking precautions against terror was better than interventions.
Later speaking at a joint news conference, Çavuşoğlu stressed on the need of cooperation to fight terrorism and irregular migration.
“We should understand that we cannot reach [desired] results by being selective in these issues,” he said.
Touching upon Ankara's procurement of air defense system S-400 from Russia, he said NATO knows the best Turkey's need for these systems as the alliance closely follows the threats in the region.
For his part, Stoltenberg said it is Turkey's own decision to purchase S-400 air and missile defense system.
"But at the same time, I am concerned about the potential consequences of the decision to buy S-400. Because the U.S. has made it clear that they will impose sanctions," he said.
Commenting on Turkey's role in NATO, he said Turkey is “an important and highly valued NATO ally.”