NATO rebuffs ‘speculations’ on Turkey’s membership

A NATO spokesperson says "Turkey takes full part in the Alliance’s consensus-based decisions as we confront the biggest security challenges in a generation."

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan arrives for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland July 9, 2016.

A spokesperson of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said on Wednesday Turkey’s membership in the bloc is not up for discussion.

Oana Lungescu said she needed to stress NATO’s position due to “speculative press reports” on NATO’s stance regarding the failed coup and Turkey’s membership.

Some media outlets in the United States cited US Secretary of State John Kerry as saying Turkey’s membership was in danger following a purge by the Turkish government of state institutions after the failed coup. Kerry and other US officials later denied the reports.

Lungescu said: “Turkey is a valued ally, making substantial contributions to NATO's joint efforts. Turkey takes full part in the Alliance’s consensus-based decisions as we confront the biggest security challenges in a generation.”

“Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question.”

Lungescu said NATO stands by Turkey against the attempted coup, adding the NATO Secretary General spoke to President Erdoğan on the night of the attempt to show full support.

The statement by the spokesperson also came a day after President Erdoğan visited Russia where Erdoğan and Putin announced stronger cooperation in the area of defence.

Several commentators described Erdoğan’s Russia visit - the first since since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last November and also his first foreign travel following the coup bid - as a “shift of axis” in Turkey’s foreign policy.

The commentators, mainly based in Europe and the US, said the visit was a sign of Turkey moving away from the Atlantic pact and approaching Russia which NATO describes as the biggest threat.

The EU leaders, including Angela Merkel of Germany, said normalisation of relations between Turkey and Russia is welcomed by the bloc.

Turkish officials also say rapprochement with Russia does not indicate a foreign policy shift but is a necessity for stability both in the region and the world.

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik underlined that such discussions had come “during times when the EU failed to set up real and meaningful relations with Turkey.”

However, he said: “No-one should ask us whether one of our relations is an alternative to another.”

“All our relations are complementary of one another.”