U.S. and EU should work together to repair ties with Turkey - fmr NATO commander

The United States and the European Union (EU) should seek a healthy way to repair their ties with Turkey and get it closer to West again instead Russia and Iran, James Stavridis, a former military commander of NATO, wrote to Bloomberg on Friday. 

"There is no exaggerating the danger posed by Turkey — a longstanding NATO member — drifting away from Europe and the U.S. and toward Russia and Iran," said Stavridis, stressing Turkey's importance for its western allies as it has the second largest army in NATO, and it sits in a geopolitically crucial zone. 

The veteran NATO commander said losing Turkey from the trans-Atlantic world would be a geopolitical mistake of near epic proportions, adding the United States and Europe continue ignoring concern on geopolitics and other issues. 

Stavridis also argued that Turkey must move forward on the critical topics like human rights, press freedom and returning to the rule of law to remain a NATO member and healing the relationship with the EU. "Finding a nuanced relationship that allows the West and Turkey to move forward in an aligned way will be difficult — but not impossible," said Stavridis.

Stravidis alines the crucial things that the United States and EU must do to keep Turkey onside as:

First, the United States should partner with the EU to help Turkey on the economic grounds since Turkey has been hosting 3 million refugees and has turned its face to Europe again with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Germany visit.  

Second, NATO and EU leaders should meet Turkish officials more often to listen to their concerns over the U.S. support to Kurds in Syria while projecting a public sense of confidence Turkey's place in NATO for both sides. 

Third, the United States should reduce the tension with Turkey which recently evolved into a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. Also, a peace process should be settled between Turks and Kurds, taking advantage of the U.S. influence on Kurdish communities over the joint fight against Islamic State (ISIS).

Lastly, considering a broader strategy, the United States should provide a more open position on military sales and cooperative defence manufacturing to Turkey. It recently has made a deal with Russia to buy S-400 anti-air system which is not compatible with NATO systems, causing another crisis with the United States. 

Regarding President Erdoğan's Germany visit which was a salute to its Western allies, "America and its partners should meet them at least halfway," said the former NATO commander.