Turkey committed to EU relations and NATO – ruling party spokesman

The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) downplayed concerns about the country’s drift away from its Western allies on Wednesday, reiterating Ankara’s commitment to good relations with the European Union and to its commitments as a member of NATO.

Turkey’s place in the NATO alliance has come under question this year, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received the first shipments of Russian-built S-400 missile defence systems in a deal agreed with Moscow in December 2017.

U.S. and NATO officials see the S-400s as a potential security hazard to NATO defence systems, with their arrival triggering speculation that Turkey’s future in the alliance could be in question.

AKP spokesman Ömer Çelik said talk of an exit from NATO showed a “lack of foresight” and stressed Turkey’s contributions to the alliance.

“Turkey is the country that best fulfils its undertakings as a NATO member,” Çelik said, referring to defence spending guidelines that U.S. President Donald Trump has criticised EU members of NATO for failing to meet.

“But it (Turkey) doesn’t receive the same benefits back from NATO,” Çelik said.

The AKP spokesman also touched on Turkey’s relations with the EU, which have been marred by concerns over Ankara’s human rights and rule of law record since a failed coup in July 2016 sent the country into a protracted period of emergency rule.

“Our president has said this period will be one of reform … Our (planned) legal reforms contain many articles that will strengthen our relationship with the EU … The judicial reform package will most likely come to parliament in October,” said Çelik.

EU lawmakers voted to suspend accession talks with Turkey in November 2016 amid a post-coup crackdown on opposition and dissidents in the country. However, Erdoğan has said joining the union is still a priority.