Sputnik spoke with Nejat Eslen, a retired major general with the Turkish Armed Forces, to discuss the results of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s recent visit to Ankara, as well as relations between Turkey and the alliance.
Speaking on Ankara’s expectations in regard to cooperation with NATO, Eslen noted that the reason for Stoltenberg’s visit to Turkey was not support for Ankara’s security policy, but rather the alliance’s concern about ensuring its integrity, which is currently related to Turkish-Greek tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“NATO Secretary General’s key task is to protect the Alliance’s unity, maintain its influence and prevent tensions between member states. As you know, some time ago Turkey and Greece found themselves on the verge of an open conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean, which caused NATO’s great concern. Therefore, being NATO’s representative, the Secretary General is making efforts to prevent such a scenario”, Eslen detailed.
According to Eslen, “no matter how much [the] NATO secretary general tries to make it look like sincerity towards Turkey as a significant strategic ally”, a number of NATO member states are considered by Ankara to be a threat to Turkey.
“NATO seeks to prevent clashes between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, in this context, tensions developed not only between Athens and Ankara, but also between Paris and Ankara. Moreover, the United States, which is a key player in NATO, has supported Greece and South Cyprus. This indicates a change in the Alliance’s nature, as well as the relations within it, which cannot but cause crisis phenomena. Noteworthy is the fact that threats addressed to Turkey are increasingly heard from NATO member states, Greece, France, and the United States. No matter how much [the] NATO Secretary General tries, he cannot change the nature of this process”, said Eslen.
Speaking about Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 defence missile networks, the retired general pointed out that the decision was the result of “Turkey’s correct analysis and understanding of existing threats and challenges”.
“Turkey is able to clearly and correctly identify security problems and threats. That’s why Ankara has opted for the S-400 systems to ensure the security of the country’s territories and sky. However, Turkey has quite a few vulnerabilities and sensitive issues. It cannot operate freely in all spheres, since it remains a NATO member, and is facing certain pressure. Added to this is a rather difficult economic and financial situation in the country. A strong Turkey is possible with a strong and stable economy and financial sector. Then the country will be able to use the S-400s more freely”, Eslen offered.