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."
"As allies, we are stronger together," he added.
In a message, NATO on Friday celebrated the 70th anniversary of Turkey and Greece's accession to the military alliance.
"On this day 70 years ago, Greece and Turkey joined NATO," it said on Twitter. "Happy Allyversary."
NATO also shared a video featuring images of Turkish and Greek soldiers at the time of their accession in 1952. The video highlights the importance of the two nations for the security of the southern flank of the Atlantic Alliance.
Moreover, the U.S. ambassador in Ankara on Friday marked the 70th anniversary of Turkey's accession to the NATO military alliance by hailing its contributions.
"Throughout its 70 years as a NATO partner and ally, Turkey's significant contributions to NATO's collective security have been a key element of our bilateral relationship," Jeff Flake said in a video message posted by the U.S. Embassy in Turkey on Twitter.
Flake described Turkey as a "critical ally" and said: "Over the past few years, Turkey's contributions to NATO have been more important than ever."
"At a time of unprecedented security challenges, it is clear Turkey takes seriously its mission to prioritize readiness of NATO forces and uphold the NATO pillars of deterrence and defense," he added.
"We look forward to maintaining and strengthening our partnership with Turkey through the alliance and to increasing our collective defense capabilities to meet current and future challenges."
He said Turkey's "continued contributions to NATO truly ensure that we are stronger together."
Underlining that Turkey's leadership continues to embody NATO's core principles, Flake said Turkey has the second-largest army in the alliance, and is its third-largest contributor to key operations around the world.
Turkey, which joined NATO in 1952, also maintains the second-largest F-16 jet fighter fleet in NATO, he said, adding that since 2012, the country has hosted the Allied Land Command Headquarters, which is responsible for coordinating and synchronizing NATO and partner land forces.
Turkey also protects NATO's southern flank and hosts NATO forces at the İncirlik airbase, the envoy said.
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, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg congratulated Defense Minister Akar on the 70th anniversary of Turkey’s membership in the bloc on Wednesday.
NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance formed in 1949 with 12 members. It is now comprised of 27 European countries, two North American countries, and one Eurasian country.
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.
Turkey also hosts many NATO initiatives. There is a NATO headquarters in the western Izmir 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.