NATO chief hails Turkish democracy after coup attempt, reminds of rule of law
REUTERS photoNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg hailed Turkish democracy and the nation on Nov. 21 following an attempted coup over the summer while noting the importance of the rule of law.
“I would just also remind us all of the fact that we are meeting here in Turkey four shorts months after the failed coup attempt,” Stoltenberg told the 62nd session of the alliance’s Parliamentary Assembly.
“This should be a sober reminder to us all, a reminder that democracy and freedom can-not be taken for granted,” he added.
“In September, I visited the Grand National Assembly in Ankara which had been shelled by tanks and bombed by F-16s. I saw the damage that was done and I met members of the parliament from all major political parties,” Stoltenberg said.
“[Members of all four parties] rushed to the parliament on the night of the coup attempt and stood together in defense of their democratic institutions,” he said.
“I want to salute them today for their courage and dedication to democracy,” he said.
Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, said democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law were core NATO values.
“Democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law are NATO’s core values. And I person-ally attach great importance to them. As you do – members of the NATO Parliamentary As-sembly,” he said.
“The important thing is that given that we all represent different nations and different po-litical parties, we again and again have proven that we are able to stand together in the alli-ance on the main message of collective defense and the will to defend each other,” he said.
“That was exactly what we did in Warsaw and we decided to strengthen our collective de-fense in response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine and ongoing military buildup of Russia,” he added.
This July, the leaders of 28 NATO member states decided to bolster collective defense amid concerns over Russia and threats by non-state actors.
‘NATO stands together as one’
NATO has taken a number of necessary steps, Stoltenberg said.
“We are increasing our defensive presence in the eastern part of the alliance, including the deployment of four multinational battalions to the Baltic States and Poland,” he said.
“Earlier this year, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States each committed to lead one of those battalions, and I want to thank those nations for their lead-ership. I also want to express my appreciation to the 13 other alliances that have pledged to join for those forces,” he said.
“Our preparations for the four battalions are on the truck. We expect to deploy all four battalions in early 2017,” he said. “NATO is united and we stand together as one. An attack on one ally will be considered an attack against all,” he added.
“NATO is also taking steps to strengthen our presence in the Black Sea region,” he said. “There will be a Romanian-led multinational brigade, and we are working on additional de-fensive measures in the air and at sea as well.”
Stoltenberg also said he was “looking forward” to working with U.S. President-elect Don-ald Trump’s upcoming administration and reiterated the trans-Atlantic alliance’s dedication to increasing funds from non-U.S. members.
He said Trump assured America’s “strong support” for the alliance and the security of Eu-rope during a phone call last week.