Turkey vows to fulfill its NATO obligations amid crisis with Russia
Turkey will continue to fulfill its obligations as an allied nation at NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, reiterating Ankara’s call on both Kiev and Moscow for restraint and a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict, while repeating his proposal of mediation.
“Turkey will continue to fulfill its obligations as a NATO ally, as it has done so far. There is no room for hesitation on this issue, and we continue our negotiations in this way,” Erdoğan said at a televised interview with the private broadcaster NTV late Jan. 26. Erdoğan was answering a question about Turkey’s position during the ongoing stalemate between the West and Russia over Ukraine.
“Our desire is to find a solution to the current crisis through dialogue and diplomacy. We maintain our belief that this is possible. We also continue to call on both Russia and Ukraine to act constructively and with restraint,” Erdoğan stated.
NATO is concerned that Russia will start a military incursion into Ukraine on the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians against Ukrainian pressure. Russia has deployed more than 100,000 troops on the border and is regularly conducting drills in the region.
Erdoğan said Turkey’s main objective is to resolve the problem before it turns out to be a major crisis and expressed Ankara’s readiness to lend support to the parties for a diplomatic solution to the matter.
“I have conveyed these messages to the heads of states, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky, and will continue to do so. We want peace and stability in our region. I am of the opinion that both countries are aware of Turkey’s well intentions and sincerity. For example, we can pave the way for the re-installment of peace by gathering the two leaders in our country,” Erdoğan said.
Occupation of Ukraine ‘not a wise move’
Turkey is equally disturbed because of the disruption of ties between Russia and the West, the president underlined, reiterating his government’s opposition to Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea.
“It’s out of question for us to change position on this. I wish Russia will not opt for a military attack and occupation of Ukraine. Such a move would not be a wise one for either Russia or our region. We hope that the tension will not come to this stage,” he said.
Having said that, Erdoğan also underlined the need for listening to Russia and engage with it to meet its security concerns, adding “We also need to explain to Russia why some of its demands are unacceptable, and I believe that a dialogue in this direction will enable NATO to be better understood or explained by Russia.”
Erdoğan invites Putin to Turkey
Erdoğan informed that he invited Russian President Putin to Turkey for a bilateral meeting and that they are awaiting a response from Moscow.
On a question on whether there is a crack within the NATO on the crisis, Erdoğan said all the allied countries should act in unity and harmony during times of crisis. “Naturally, every country has its own national interest and may have different approaches. But what is essential is to adopt a common position under the roof of alliance. So far, NATO did not perform badly,” he explained.