Turkey committed to more missions in NATO
Sevil Erkuş - BRUSSELS
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended a crucial summit of NATO leaders in Brussels on July 11-12, where Ankara proposed to the alliance further contribution to upcoming missions and a new command structure.
Refuting claims that Turkey is dragging itself away from the alliance, NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy Tacan İldem said Ankara is actually increasing its contributions to the bloc.
Ankara has proposed the alliance to allocate the Turkish army’s military headquarters in Istanbul for the new land command structure of NATO, he noted. The headquarters, which was already used as a NATO mission, will be offered with increased capacity, he said.
Turkey will likely send a deputy commander to NATO’s newly-launched training mission in Iraq, along with contribution of further trainers, İldem told the Hürriyet Daily News.
As a third proposal, Turkey will assume the command of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2021, he said.
Erdoğan in intense bilateral traffic
On the sidelines of the Brussels summit, Erdoğan had a series of bilateral meetings with leaders. In their first encounter after the elections in Italy, Erdoğan met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Erdoğan also met with France’s Emmanuel Macron for discussions that came after months of strain between Ankara and Paris over the latter’s given support to Syrian Kurds.
Erdoğan had bilateral meetings with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. The Turkish president had a brief encounter with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. He invited Bosnia’s Bakir İzetbegovic and Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev to the office of Turkey’s permanent NATO representation for a trilateral meeting.
Erdoğan had his last meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The meeting comes amid a spat between Ankara and Athens over Turkey’s detention of two Greek soldiers caught in Turkish territory near the Meriç River in March. Turkey is furious over Greece’s repeated refusal to extradite the eight fugitives who had fled to Greece and were granted asylum by the Greek Council of State and released after coup attempt in 2016.