Turkey seeks to assure allies over its commitment to NATO- Financial Times
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said there’s no cause for concern over Turkey’s commitment to the North Atlantic Alliance.
“We are a tested nation, a tried army that would never act contrary to our alliances. There is no cause for concern,” Akar told the Financial Times on Monday.
Commenting over the criticism against Turkey that its objections to Sweden and Finland’s bids to join the NATO and its close relations with Russia were harming the alliance, Akar said “A NATO without Turkey is unthinkable.”
Turkey, a NATO member since 1952 with the second-largest army in the alliance, has refused to approve Sweden and Finland’s membership citing their “failure” to combat terrorism and expects the two Scandinavian counties to fulfil Ankara’s extradition requests of terror suspects in order to let them join the military organization.
“We fully support NATO’s open-door policy. Just as we respect the candidates’ desire to become members, they must respect our security concerns,” Akar said.
“We want this problem resolved, but there is nothing we can do. We are waiting for Sweden and Finland to complete their work and solve this,” he said.
Ankara’s relations with Moscow constitutes another dispute between Turkey and other NATO member countries. Turkey’s purchasing Russian S-400 defense systems has fractured its ties with the United States, resulting Washington’s excluding Ankara from a F-35 fighter jets programme. Following the expulsion, Turkey officially applied to buy new F-16s and some modernization kits for its existing fleet, but despite President Joe Biden’s support, US Congress yet to green light the purchase.
Akar said he was “optimistic” that the congress would allow the sale.
“We want to strengthen our military and the US wants NATO countries to spend more on defence, but then puts restrictions on our military purchases,” Akar said.
Also commenting on Turkey’s signalling a new military offensive into Northern Syria, “When the time and place comes, we will take action as we have in the past as necessary,” Akar said, declined to say whether a fresh offensive against the Kurdish militants is imminent, the Financial Times said.