NATO powerful only with Turkey, says Erdoğan
NATO is powerful only with Turkey and without it, the alliance is not that strong, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, citing Ankara as among the top five nations within the security institutions which is fully fulfilling all the NATO missions, in remarks ahead of the alliance’s summit in mid-June.
“First of all, we are strong in terms of our armed forces, and in this regard, a NATO with Turkey is strong; a NATO without Turkey is not strong. [NATO Secretary-General Jens] Stoltenberg says this all the time,” Erdoğan told in an interview with national broadcaster TRT late June 1.
His statement came two weeks before the NATO Leaders’ Summit, where the NATO 2030 report and other current regional and global conflicts will be discussed. Erdoğan, on the margins of the summit, will hold a bilateral talk with U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Erdoğan said he would discuss the role of Turkey within the alliance in a bid to respond to some criticisms from some member states.
“We have to question the stance of our partners and friends in NATO toward Turkey. What is it? If they ask which the top five nations at NATO are, Turkey is one of them. Whoever argues the contrary, [Turkey is in top five countries] in the air, on land and at sea…” he said.
“We want an equal relationship with the allied countries. They have to get used to that,” he added.
NATO should question Macron’s words
Turkey is a strong member at NATO, and it wants NATO to endure in the strongest way, Erdoğan suggested, criticizing French President Emmanuel Macron, who once had argued that the NATO was brain dead.
“NATO should question this. We also know with whom Macron is collaborating in Libya and Syria,” he said.
Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey had to buy Russian air defense systems because it needed them and NATO powers did not provide them to Turkey, recalling that even Stoltenberg underlined that it was a sovereign decision of Turkey and NATO cannot interfere in weapon acquisition processes of the allied nations.
On a question about Turkey’s sale of armed drones to Poland, Erdoğan said by this transaction the Turkish military equipment was entering the NATO market. “It’s a very serious development. And beyond this, these armed drones have proven its success in Libya and Azerbaijan,” he said.
Erdoğan criticizes Biden over April 24 statement
On his meeting with the U.S. president on June 14, Erdoğan said he would ask Biden why the relations between the two countries were so tense.
He recalled that he had worked with both Democrat and Republican presidents in the past and he never had such tension with them, Erdoğan said, underlining that he had a very good dialogue with former President Donald Trump.
“But, unfortunately, we did not have a very good dialogue with Biden. Now, we will meet at NATO Summit, and we will discuss all these issues,” he stated, singling out the U.S. president’s categorization of the 1915 events as genocide.
“Let’s leave this issue to the historians, to the legal experts, to the anthropologists... Only after they concluded their researches, we, as the politicians, should intervene and see what we can do,” he said. Erdoğan also reminded that no American leaders had ever used this word in their statements in the past.
Turkey is not a banana republic and will not accept to be cornered, He said, adding “Those who corner Turkey like this will lose an important friend. We will be together with you at NATO as one of the top five nations.”
US support to the YPG
Erdoğan also recalled that the U.S. intensified its support to the YPG in northern Syria and did not change this policy, although all the links between the YPG and PKK were explained to them through concrete evidence.
“Do you know what America says now? They say ‘YPG has nothing to do with the PKK.’ Despite the evidence we have documented, they say ‘No bonds.’ If [the U.S.] is our ally, will it stand with us or terrorists? Unfortunately, they are siding with the terrorists.”
President also blamed the U.S. for allowing the YPG to generate income from the oil wells in northern Syria and allocating hundreds of millions of dollars to the YPG in the Pentagon budget.
On relations with Egypt, Erdoğan said Turkey and Egypt had a vast area of cooperation from the eastern Mediterranean to Libya, and Ankara was determined to restore relations with Cairo. “I know Egyptian people very well. The cultural aspect of our ties is very strong. Therefore, we are determined to start this process again,” the president stated.
In terms of the fight against terror, Erdoğan said the operations inside and outside Turkey were being carried out successfully, informing that they were seeking ways to end the PKK’s use of the U.N.-led Makhmour refugee camp in northern Iraq as a brood nest. Children and youngsters are participating in the PKK from this camp, Erdoğan said, vowing an action could be taken to stop it if the U.N. did not step in.