Turkey on July 22 responded to criticisms that it was moving away from the West amid the row over its purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, urging the U.S. and European allies to seriously address its security concerns.
In an op-ed in Bloomberg, İbrahim Kalın, spokesperson for the Turkish presidency, said the accusations against Turkey include President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s alleged authoritarianism and Ankara undermining the NATO alliance.
“These charges are baseless. They point to a profound failure of understanding and a deliberate dismissal of Turkey‘s legitimate security concerns, the regional dynamics in which it operates and the larger geopolitical realities,” Kalın wrote.
“The claim that Turkey is no longer a reliable NATO ally is groundless,” said Kalın, adding that Turkey plays a crucial role in all major NATO missions, from Kosovo and Bosnia to Lebanon and Afghanistan.
Last week, Washington announced it was taking Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program, following the threats to do so over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-air system.
U.S. officials argued the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Besides the S-400 purchase, Turkey‘s exploration for oil and natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a string of debates on the European level.
However, Kalın said these two events were not the only issues that have created the current crisis, which he said is “urgent and requires a broader perspective.”
“Alliance does not mean monopoly: it does not mean some members are free to impose their agenda on others,” said Kalın. “NATO cannot function properly when the security concerns of all members are not taken seriously. Turkey is no exception.”
Kalın said Turkey‘s security concerns are ignored in a systematic manner and criticized the U.S. and European countries for their insufficient support for Ankara against the PKK and FETÖ, the group behind a bloody defeated coup in 2016.
“Today, both the PKK and the Gülenists work freely out of Western countries. Turkey‘s repeated requests for the extradition of the members of these terrorist networks have fallen on deaf ears,” said Kalın.
Fetullah Gülen, the FETÖ’s leader, is a legal resident of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. After years of requesting his extradition, Ankara has accused the U.S. of foot-dragging the process.
Kalın said Obama administration support for the PYD/YPG, the Syria branch of the illegal PKK, further harmed the bond of trust between the two allies.
S-400 a ‘necessity’
“This policy, currently continued under the Trump administration, also poses a serious threat to Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity and opens the country for proxy wars along ethnic and sectarian lines,” Kalın warned.
On July 23, U.S. President Donald Trump will meet all Republican senators at the White House to discuss potential sanctions on Turkey over the S-400 purchase, the Washington Post reported.
Turkey‘s earlier attempts to purchase the Patriot missile system from the U.S. bore no fruit. Also, the Obama administration removed the Patriots from Turkey in 2015 at a time when Turkey remained under threat from the Syrian war.
Following unsuccessful efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S., Ankara was forced to approach Russia in 2017, to acquire the S-400 system.
“The Russian air defense system became not a choice but a necessity for Turkey,” Kalın said.
“The EU not only violated its own principles but also committed a great injustice against Turkish Cypriots,” said Kalın.
Kalın asserted that Turkey is not moving away from the West or any other part of the world but expanding and diversifying its foreign-policy options.
“But it is being pushed away at the expense of the security and integrity of NATO.
“Instead of instrumentalizing Turkey for their short-term interests, our Western friends and allies need to treat Turkey as an equal partner and address its security concerns in a serious manner,” he said.
Hurriyet Daily News