NATO highlights Turkey’s key role in alliance, fight against ISIL
Previewing the NATO Summit in Brussels that will take place on June 14, Jens Stoltenberg spoke at an event jointly organized by NATO, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and the Brookings Institution.
“Turkey is an important NATO ally. If we just look at the map, we realize the importance of this land … and it is the only NATO ally that borders Iraq and Syria. Turkey’s infrastructure has been extremely important in fighting ISIL,” said Stoltenberg.
Also applauding Turkey’s role in managing the migrant crisis, the NATO chief said: “We will continue to work closely with Turkey to stabilize our (NATO’s) southern neighborhood.”
Assessing recent developments in Turkish-Greek relations, Stoltenberg remarked that NATO is an important platform to overcome intra-alliance differences and disagreements.
The mechanism that was recently formed to prevent an armed conflict between Turkey and Greece is a good example of this, he added.
About Russia, Stoltenberg said Moscow continues “pattern of dangerous behavior” with its “massive military build-up from the Arctic to Africa” and carries out “cyber and hybrid attacks across NATO countries.”
He also accused Russia of intimidating its neighbors and suppressing opposition in the country.
Turning to China, Stoltenberg said there are opportunities to engage with Beijing on issues such as trade, climate change and arms control.
“China will soon have the largest economy in the world. It already has the second largest defense budget and the biggest navy. And it is seeking to control critical infrastructure in our countries and around the world,” he said.
Stoltenberg also drew attention to the “complex” security environment, including global competition, sophisticated cyber-attacks, disruptive technologies, terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the security impacts of climate change.
“None of our countries can face these challenges alone. But the nations of Europe and North America are not alone. We stand together in NATO. This is what NATO 2030 is about. Standing strong together,” he said.