NATO must keep Turkey close despite differences, Blinken says
The NATO alliance can emerge stronger after a period of internal divisions and must keep Turkey at the heart of transatlantic ties, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on March 23.
Blinken said that, despite public differences with Ankara, the United States and NATO had a strong interest in keeping Turkey anchored in the alliance.
"Turkey is a long-standing and valued ally," Blinken told, saying it was also in Ankara's interest to remain in the alliance.
His remarks came in an address with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the NATO foreign ministers meeting.
Blinken also said NATO has shown its effectiveness in dealing with some disagreement, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, “serving as a vehicle for deconfliction, for de-escalation, for finding a way forward.”
Calling it a “positive step,” the U.S. official said the work on it must go on.
Stoltenberg, for his part, said, there are disagreements and concerns regarding Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, which he expressed to Ankara.
“At the same time, I strongly believe that NATO has to be a platform where allies also sit down together around the same table when there are differences. And then we address them, then we discuss them, and that’s exactly what we try to do,” he stated.
Stoltenberg said NATO could establish a de-confliction mechanism between Turkey and Greece to reduce the risk for incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean, and NATO’s naval presence in the Aegean brought Turkey, Greece and the EU together.