Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a joint effort is needed to combat terrorism in the region.
Turkey's only expectation from its NATO allies is that they act in accordance with the spirit of the alliance, particularly against terrorist groups threatening Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday at the North Atlantic Council Mediterranean Dialogue Meeting in Ankara.
Erdogan underlined that Turkey was the only NATO country to engage in direct combat and inflict a heavy defeat on Daesh terrorists in Syria.
"In Idlib, which was on the verge of a great humanitarian catastrophe, we took the initiative to ensure peace. We thereby prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and prevented irregular migration flow which would have shaken Europe deeply," Erdogan said.
"We have ensured the return of 320,000 Syrian refugees to the safe zones we freed of terror," he added.
"We have only one expectation from our allies. We expect only our allies in NATO to act in accordance with the spirit of the alliance, and to adopt their founding values. We want our allies to take measures against the structures they regard as a terrorist organisation,” Erdogan said, referring to the fight against terror groups which threaten Turkey's security.
Ties to other regions are complementary
Erdogan also said that Turkey's ties with different regions and countries are not alternative to each other but complement each other.
"Our country will also take over the command of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in 2021," the Turkish president said.
Erdogan said Turkey would maintain its strong position within NATO and also take the steps required by its national interests, regional security and stability.
"Turkey's ties with different regions and countries are not alternative to each other but complement each other," he underlined.
He also said that Turkey expected NATO allies to "act in accordance with the spirit of alliance and protect its founding values."
TRT World's Hasan Abdullah has more from Ankara.
Cavusoglu, Stoltenberg meet
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed NATO-EU relations and Turkey's purchase of S-400 air defence system from Russia.
Cavusoglu and Stoltenberg gathered at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara on the occasion of NATO's 25th Mediterranean Dialogue meeting.
In a Twitter post, Cavusoglu said, "[We] made evaluations on a wide range of issues including NATO-EU relations and Turkey's S-400 purchase. Discussed the preparations of the NATO Heads of State and Government meeting to be held in London."
W/@NATO Secretary General @JensStoltenberg, made evaluations on a wide range of issues including #NATO-#EU relations & Turkey’s S-400 purchase. Discussed the preparations of the NATO Heads of State and Government meeting to be held in London. pic.twitter.com/T1QZpbDf49— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) May 6, 2019
Speaking at the forum, Stoltenberg said NATO was determined to improve security in the Middle East and North Africa.
Stressing that the world was becoming more complicated and interconnected, he said taking precautions against terror was better than interventions.
Stoltenberg also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit.
"Pleased to be back in Ankara to meet with [President] Erdogan," the NATO chief wrote on Twitter ahead of his meeting with the Turkish president.
"Turkey is a highly valued ally and NATO stands in solidarity with Turkey as it faces serious security challenges," Stoltenberg went on to say.
NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue was initiated in 1994 by the North Atlantic Council.
It currently involves seven non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.