Jun 15 2019

Turkey’s far-right leader says the country should question NATO membership

The leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said on Saturday that Turkey should question its NATO membership and all other international ties in relation to a recent dispute with Washington over Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 missile systems.

Turkey’s NATO alliance has reached a breaking point, Devlet Bahçeli said in Istanbul during an election campaign meeting for a rerun in the city on June 23, Duvar news site reported.

The far-right leader criticised a letter sent by the acting U.S. Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan last week to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar, which said Turkey would be removed from the F-35 programme by July 31, if it went ahead with plans to buy Russian S-400 batteries.

“Washington’s attitude to put Turkey under blockage over the S-400 dispute is neither friendly nor well-intentioned,” Bahçeli said.

“Leave a side the problems with its (letter’s) tone, the contents of it is not only a great disappointment but is abdication of reason,” Bahçeli said.

Bahçeli went on to say the wording of the letter was “imperialist” and “insulting” and struck Turkey’s nerves.

“NATO is not the United States’ backyard, its iron fist, its toy,” Bahçeli said. “If that is so, then starting from membership to NATO, Turkey should immediately question all international ties and relations that work unilaterally, should cut dialogue with all bodies that created dependency and captivity.”

Turkey has not responded officially to Shanahan’s deadline, however, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said this week that Ankara’s deal with Moscow for the purchase of S-400 missile defence systems was complete.