NATO chief expresses solidarity with Türkiye after quake disaster
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed the alliance’s solidarity and support to Türkiye on Feb. 16 after two devastating earthquakes hit the country, killing tens of thousands of people in southeastern Anatolian provinces.
“In your time of need, NATO stands with Türkiye,“ Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
The earthquake was the biggest disaster in the NATO territory since the alliance was formed, he said, adding, “It’s time for NATO to stand shoulder to shoulder with Türkiye.”
Stoltenberg visited Ankara to show solidarity with the NATO member after devastating earthquakes hit Türkiye last week.
“NATO conveyed Türkiye’s demands to all allies. NATO allies continue to provide support the day after the earthquake. Aircraft allocated from the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom are carrying aid non-stop. Fundraising campaigns were organized in all NATO countries. These are a symbol of our solidarity,” Stoltenberg stated.
Çavuşoğlu welcomed NATO’s rapid humanitarian response for Türkiye. “Thank you for your solidarity and support,” he said.
The minister noted that Ankara asked NATO to provide aircraft for transportation of humanitarian assistance to the quake zone, especially to carry containers and thousands of tents from Pakistan to accommodate quake victims in the region.
Türkiye could ratify Finland, Sweden NATO bids separately
Türkiye could evaluate ratifying Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO separately, Çavuşoğlu said.
“We could evaluate Finland’s NATO membership process separately from Sweden,” the minister stated, noting that Türkiye’s position on the membership of the two countries has been “clear and unambiguous from the beginning.”
Stoltenberg said on Feb. 16 that both Sweden and Finland have implemented policies that recognize the concerns that Türkiye has expressed and that terrorism would be a major topic at a NATO summit in July.
“This is a Turkish decision,” he said. “It’s the Turkish government, the Turkish parliament that decides on the issue of ratification.”
The Nordic countries have taken steps to meet requests of Ankara, therefore, it is ‘timely’ for Türkiye to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership, the NATO chief said when asked if Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession must be at the same time.
“Both can be ratified now. But the main issue is not that they are ratified together. The main issue is that they are ratified as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also met the NATO chief.
Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join the U.S.-led defense alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Türkiye and Hungary remain the only members of the 30-nation alliance that has failed to ratify the two bids by votes in parliament.