Updated: Jun 4
This article appeared in the "By Invitation" section of the Economist print edition under the headline "Recep Tayyip Erdogan on NATO expansion" in which Turkey’s president explains why his country is blocking Sweden and Finland from joining.
To counter his arguments, I have also added the article below as a pdf entitled "Turkey, Terrorists and NATO" by Uzay Bulut for the Gatestone Institute – 02.06.22. Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
Here are Recep Tayyip Erdogan's views:
THE WAR in Ukraine challenged conventional wisdom about the rules-based international order, great power competition and Euro-Atlantic security. The most recent developments also breathed new life into NATO, arguably the greatest military alliance in history.
Turkey has been a proud and indispensable NATO ally for 70 years. Our country joined the alliance in 1952, having sent troops to Korea in defence of democracy and freedom. During the cold war and in its aftermath, Turkey has been a stabilising power and a force for good in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Black Sea regions. Turkish troops, too, have deployed to many parts of the world, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, as part of NATO missions.
At the same time, our country invested billions of dollars in its defence industry, bolstering its defensive capacity. That additional capacity resulted in the development of military products that have made their impact in various theatres of war, including Ukraine.
Indeed, Turkey’s increased capacity has also contributed to NATO’s resilience and strength. Whereas our partners have always appreciated Turkish contributions to NATO’s collective security mission, they quickly forgot about them when there were no threats to their national security.
Our partners who only remember Turkey’s importance in turbulent times, such as the crisis in the Balkans, mistakenly thought that long-term stability could be achieved without Turkey. Thus, after the elimination of the immediate threat, they disregarded geopolitical realities and the potential threats that might emerge in the region. Needless to say, such pipe dreams turned out to be short-lived as a result of international crises.
The threats against international peace and security changed in recent years and that led many to believe that NATO was an “obsolete” organisation that ceased to serve its purpose. Emmanuel Macron even said in 2019 that the alliance was experiencing “brain death”. The same folks questioned Turkey’s role within NATO. That blend of extraordinary wishful thinking and extreme strategic myopia cost the alliance many years.
Nonetheless, Turkey refused to believe that the shortsighted and occasionally reckless attitudes of certain member states reflected the position of NATO as a whole. Quite the contrary, we stressed NATO’s importance and called on member states to take necessary steps, that included updating NATO’s missions to cover emerging threats and making the organisation more relevant for new geopolitical and global challenges. That call was in line with our nation’s response to the international system’s deepening instability, too.
In this sense, Turkey argued that NATO—like all other international organisations—had to implement certain reforms to cope with emerging security threats. Specifically on terrorism, the lack of collective action, in spite of direct attacks against many member states, undermined security co-operation and fuelled deep distrust among the citizens of NATO countries about the organisation.
Turkey highlighted that trend at all NATO summits and maintained that international co-operation was vital for transforming the fight against terrorism. We wanted NATO to co-operate better on intelligence and military issues when dealing with terror organisations, not only to prevent terrorist attacks but also to curb terrorist financing and recruitment within NATO borders. We remain committed to that position.
Likewise, we made legitimate and necessary demands upon NATO, as multiple civil wars broke out in Turkey’s neighbourhood, to ensure the security of our borders and airspace as well as human security, as the largest refugee wave since World War II had emerged in the region. Largely abandoned, our country dealt with all those crises by itself and paid a high price during that effort. Ironically, any steps taken under the NATO umbrella would have prepared the alliance for future conflicts and crises at its borders.
For this article in pdf from the Economist, please click here:
This post would not be complete without reference to an article from the New Yorker dated May 09, 2022 entitled:
"The Turkish Drone That Changed the Nature of Warfare"
The Bayraktar TB2 has brought precision air-strike capabilities to Ukraine and other countries. It’s also a diplomatic tool, enabling Turkey’s rise. By Stephen Witt.
The article is eleven pages and can be downloaded in pdf by clicking on this link:
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey’s president