Turkish newspapers call for country to withdraw from NATO after incident

Two Turkish national newspapers have called for the country to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) over an incident in which founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were included in an “enemies list” at a NATO exercise in Norway.

The front-page headlines of left-nationalist Aydınlık and Kurdish-Islamist Doğru Haber were in unlikely agreement on Saturday morning, with the former going for “Let’s withdraw from NATO”, and the latter for “Withdraw from NATO!”

“Turkey has been in (NATO’s) sights since 1945,” Aydınlık’s editorial said. “Now (the Turkish nation’s) minds are clear and expectations are open: let us withdraw from NATO in order to defend Atatürk’s revolution, territorial integrity, national unity, a production economy and secularism!”

Members of the Vatan Party, which Aydınlık has long supported, took to the streets of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir on Saturday to call for Turkey to leave the alliance.

Various front-page headlines on the NATO incident on Saturday
Various of Satuday's front-page headlines over the NATO incident

Doğru Haber took a different stance.

“Turkey has no need for NATO,” it quoted the head of Kurdish Islamist party Hüdapar as saying, “It must search for ways to form a common military power, common economic power and common political power with other Islamic countries.”

There was condemnation of the NATO incident throughout the Turkish press, but some newspapers showed less sympathy for the international organisation than others.

The nationalist Ortadoğu asked, “If NATO is a friend, who is the enemy?”, Islamist Yeni Şafak went with the headline “NATO is an enemy to us”, while pro-Erdoğan newspaper Türkiye called NATO “a sponsor of the PKK and FETÖ” referring to the Kurdish separatist movement, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the Gülen Movement, which the Turkish government refers as the "Fethullahist Terror Organisation" (FETÖ) and accuses of masterminding last year’s failed coup attempt.