Erdoğan adviser lays out Turkey’s vision for NATO
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun laid out Turkey’s vision for NATO ahead of a summit of the alliance on Monday.
NATO can only become more effective by acknowledging the national priorities of member states and supporting them in times of real need, Altun said in an op-ed for Al Jazeera’s news website on Sunday.
“The NATO members should be ready to defend each other against common threats in the future. Turkey has always been and continues to be ready to do its part,” he said.
Turkey’s relations with NATO have deteriorated over the past five years after its ties with Russia grew closer, the country attacked Kurdish militants in Syria allied with the United States against Islamic State (ISIS) and became embroiled in regional disputes with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 air defence system from Russia in 2019 remains a key point of contention. Both NATO and the United States say that the missiles are incompatible with NATO equipment and a threat to the security of NATO technology.
President Erdoğan will have several bilateral meetings during the NATO summit in Brussels, including with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss tensions in ties.
Vowing Turkey’s continuing commitment to the alliance, Altun said: “We consider NATO indispensable for our nation’s security and for peace in our region.” But NATO has to recognise the need to reconcile national priorities with those of the organisation as a whole, he said.
“Our alliance should not only focus on identifying common enemies but must come together around a common purpose that serves the national interests of us all,” Altun said.
“Turkey is ready to pay its fair share to ensure the collective security for our alliance, but the burden sharing must not only be about military budgets and contributions to NATO.”
NATO members should tackle their differences with diplomacy, he said. The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defence procurement agency and suspended the country from a programme to purchase F-35 stealth fighter jets in retaliation for the S-400 purchase.
“We believe that dialogue is always key to resolve differences among member states,” Altun said.
Altun said some NATO members had failed to understand Turkey’s regional security concerns.
“Turkey cannot be expected to undermine its national security and sovereignty to accommodate the unreasonable demands of some member states and flawed perceptions vis-a-vis the regional turmoil Turkey has been confronting for a decade now,” he said.
“However, we regret to mention that the support from our NATO allies on these fronts has been less than exemplary.”