Turkey must remain in NATO, maintain Western values, opposition leader says

The leader of Turkey’s secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that Turkey must remain in the NATO alliance and establish a democracy that would set an example for Muslim countries.

"Turkey must remain in the global democratic structure. There is nothing that totalitarian regimes can offer Turkey. Turkey must be part of NATO. Turkey fought against the West during its founding, but never rejected Western values,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a live interview on pro-government Habertürk channel on Monday.

The comments from secularist main opposition leader come as Turkey’s decades-long place in the NATO alliance and alignment with the West has come under question over its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missiles.

U.S. and NATO defence officials have said the S-400 is incompatible with NATO’s systems in the region and have stressed concerns about potential data and security breaches that might allow Moscow to access NATO operational secrets.

The United States responded to Turkey’s procurement of the S-400 by suspending the country from the programme to build F-35 fighter jets and threatening Ankara with sanctions after Russia began delivering the missiles to Turkey. 

Kılıçdaroğlu stressed the importance of establishing democracy in Turkey, which would set an example to other Muslim nations.

"If we crown Turkey’s republic with democracy, then all Muslim countries will see how valuable of an element it is,” the CHP leader said.

Turkey should not exclude Moscow in the process, Kılıçdaroğlu said, while speaking of Ankara’s relations with NATO.

Analysts see cooperation in defence and Syria between Ankara and Moscow as proof that Turkey has now given up on the West and is in effect turning to Russia.