Turkey will continue its principled and responsible stance within NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday as Ankara celebrates 70 years of membership.
Erdoğan and Stoltenberg in a phone call discussed the cooperation between Ankara and the alliance as well as regional issues.
The president thanked Stoltenberg for clearly underlining Turkey’s indispensable position within NATO on various platforms.
He said that in the new strategic concept, the threat of terrorism must be reflected with all its dimensions and that it is Turkey’s natural right to expect solidarity and support from its allies in areas such as the fight against terrorism.
Turkey joined the military alliance of 30 North American and European countries in 1952. The country has also 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 Izmir province, an air base in 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 (TL 1.3 billion) to the common funding of NATO.
Erdoğan further highlighted that the continuing crisis between Russia and Ukraine has demonstrated the value of Turkey for the alliance and that Ankara, since the first day, has demanded that the tensions be solved through dialogue and diplomacy. He reiterated that Turkey is ready to host a summit between leaders and that this offer has been shared with both sides.
Turkey has been closely following the developments and is in close contact with both Kyiv and Moscow. Ankara has also offered to mediate talks between them.
Putin has accepted Erdoğan’s invitation to visit Turkey amid the tensions and will make the trip once the pandemic and schedules allow, the Kremlin said.
Erdoğan also recently visited Kyiv and held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The Turkish president reiterated that Turkey stands by its decision not to recognize the annexation of Crimea and declared Ankara's support for Ukraine's Crimean Platform initiative.
Turkey shares the Black Sea with Ukraine and Russia. While forging cooperation on defense and energy, Turkey has opposed Moscow’s policies in Syria and Libya, as well as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It has also sold sophisticated drones to Ukraine, angering Russia.