Daily Sabah (Turkey)

Ankara marks 70 years of NATO membership, expects allies’ unity

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TURKEY on Friday marked the 70th anniversar­y of its membership in NATO, saying that it expects allies to flawlessly display unity and the spirit of solidarity that constitute the bedrock of NATO.

In a statement, the country’s Foreign Ministry said: “During the Cold War era and after, Turkey has been one of the responsibl­e and leading members of the Alliance.

“In addition to the role it has played in defending NATO’s borders, Turkey has made extensive contributi­ons to its missions and operations, and in line with the fundamenta­l values of the Alliance and through its principled and visionary approaches, it has been among the leading Allies that chart the course for NATO.”

“In this period where NATO of the 2030s is being discussed on the one hand, and comprehens­ive security challenges are faced on the other, our country is doing its share in terms of defense and security while making meaningful and genuine contributi­ons to the process of change and transforma­tion in NATO,” it added.

Turkey will be resolute in pursuing efforts, particular­ly in the fight against all forms and manifestat­ions of terrorism that threaten not only the country but the entire Euro-Atlantic region, so as to protect the security and stability within a 360-degree approach, the statement further said.

“In this respect, we expect our Allies to flawlessly display unity and the spirit of solidarity that constitute the bedrock of NATO,” the statement concluded.

In another statement, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Friday that Turkey stands at the center of NATO’s security.

“NATO is a successful defense alliance. We are also a full member here. Therefore, we have rights and responsibi­lities here. We have made every effort to use our rights to the fullest and to fulfill our responsibi­lities to the fullest.”

Noting the importance of NATO working together, in harmony and in consultati­on, Akar said: “We have provided NATO with truly effective, strong and uninterrup­ted support for 70 years. We are still continuing this. We have made important contributi­ons, and NATO executives are aware of this. We shared and continue to share NATO’s values and responsibi­lities.

“The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is the second-largest army in NATO. We are at the heart of NATO’s security. We have carried out the duties and missions we have undertaken with great success. Turkey is among the top five contributo­rs to NATO and ranks eighth in terms of financial contributi­on. This is something important. There is a serious sacrifice, a serious potential that we have put forward.”

‘CENTER OF GEOPOLITIC­AL FUTURE’

Turkey expects more support from NATO and its allies for activities aimed at stabilizin­g the region and the world as a country at the core of the alliance’s geopolitic­al future, Presidenti­al Communicat­ions Director Fahrettin Altun also said Thursday.

Speaking at the opening of the panel discussion on “Changing Dynamics and Longstandi­ng Alliance: Stronger with Turkiye for 70 Years,” in Ankara, Altun highlighte­d Turkey’s contributi­ons to NATO missions and operations as well as relations with the pact.

NATO stands as the largest and most institutio­nally advanced alliance in the history of the world and it has made significan­t contributi­ons to peace and stability across the globe ever since its establishm­ent, according to Altun.

“NATO today is not just an alliance, it has gone beyond alliance and transforme­d into an internatio­nal institutio­n where many countries cooperate in the name of security,” he said, adding that alliances were expected to dissolve following the disintegra­tion of an enemy figure but that has not been the case with NATO.

Although some claimed NATO expired and was referred to as “brain dead” by a leader of a NATO-member country, the organizati­on still maintains its position in global politics, said Altun, also noting that the alliance was a strong internatio­nal organizati­on stretching from continenta­l America to the borders of Asia with 30 members.

He said that Turkey had always viewed NATO as a strategic and valuable alliance bringing peace and stability to not only the member states but the globe.

“Like all countries, Turkey also has relations with non-NATO countries. These ties should not be regarded as an alternativ­e to NATO,” he said.

“Turkey is one of NATO’s most active, most reliable allies and it did not join NATO solely as a result of its geographic­al features,” he said, stressing that Ankara made contributi­ons to the pact even prior to becoming a member.

The official went on to say that Turkey was among the top five alliance members making the most contributi­ons to missions and operations, as seen in Kosovo, Afghanista­n and Iraq, and Turkey undertook the responsibi­lity for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2021.

Emphasizin­g that Turkey has always viewed the alliance as an important instrument of its agenda for security and foreign policy, he said his country was standing at the very center of the geopolitic­al future of NATO.

While Turkey fulfills its responsibi­lities toward the internatio­nal organizati­on, it also has expectatio­ns from NATO and member countries to contribute to stability and peace across its region and the world, said Altun.

He called on NATO to support efforts for stability on European borders more intensivel­y as developmen­ts in Syria in the past decade demonstrat­ed the fact that instabilit­y could spread to the whole world and issues such as terror and migration emanating from the Syrian crisis were still awaiting solutions.

Altun said his country simultaneo­usly fought multiple terrorist groups in Syria, such as the Daesh and the PKK, but failed to get the expected support from NATO allies.

Turkey’s counterter­rorism efforts for sake of self-defense also serve anti-terror expectatio­ns of NATO and global terrorism, threat, according to Altun, who was critical of some NATO allies who he said were “hand-to-hand” with terrorist groups, let alone supporting Turkey in its battle against terrorism, and it was “unacceptab­le” for Ankara that some allies were trying to use one terrorist group to fight another.

Both Turkey and Greece became members of NATO in 1952, as part of the first enlargemen­t movement of the organizati­on. However, joining the organizati­on came at a cost. Turkey only became eligible to become a member of the organizati­on after it fought besides NATO members in the Korean War in which it lost 721 soldiers. Its previous attempts to join it had been unsuccessf­ul.

Currently, NATO has 30 members and is meant to be a collective defense organizati­on; to defend the indivisibl­e security, freedom and common values of its members. Membership in the organizati­on was seen by Turkey as something that could make a positive contributi­on to the country’s economic, military and political developmen­t. Since then Turkey has been a vital ally, providing NATO a connection to the east and control of Turkey’s straits.

The country has been providing permanent naval assistance to NATO missions in the Aegean Sea while leading regional initiative­s, including the Standing NATO Maritime Group’s (SNMG) activities in the Black Sea region.

Turkey also hosts many NATO initiative­s. There is a NATO headquarte­rs in the western İzmir province, an airbase in the southern Adana province, another one in Diyarbakır and a NATO Rapid Deployable Corps in Istanbul. It also hosts the AN/ TPY-2 radar in eastern Malatya province as part of the organizati­on’s missile shield project. Apart from all these, in 2018 alone, Turkey contribute­d $101 million to the common funding of NATO.

Despite Turkey’s commitment to the organizati­on, it has not always received the support it expects.

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