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Turkish Parliament speaker calls for NATO overhaul amid strained US relations

Turkish Parliament speaker calls for NATO overhaul amid strained US relations Parliament speaker Numan Kurtulmus hold talks with representatives of Turkish Press Organizations at the Turkish Embassy in Washington DC, U.S. on July 08, 2024. (AA Photo)
By Newsroom
Jul 9, 2024 9:37 AM

NATO should review its functions in the changing new world order, said the Turkish parliament speaker on Monday.

“Türkiye, as one of NATO’s important allies, will continue its membership in NATO and will maintain its bilateral relations both institutionally within NATO and with other NATO member countries,” Numan Kurtulmus told Turkish journalists in Washington, D.C.

“However, in general, we believe that NATO should also review its new functions in this process,” he added.

Türkiye, which boasts NATO’s second-largest army, has been a member of the alliance for over 70 years.

Kurtulmus emphasized that recent global conflicts, particularly the Russia-Ukraine crisis, illustrate the need for NATO to take steps beyond being merely a security and solidarity organization.

Kurtulmus is visiting the U.S. through Wednesday to participate in a NATO summit with parliamentary leaders from the 32 NATO member states and Ukraine, including 23 parliament speakers.

“Undoubtedly, the most important of these functions is that NATO has a deterrence and security perspective. In addition, it must also have a peace mission, and we believe NATO must review its own duties to establish peace,” he added.

Kurtulmus highlighted the significant threats and opportunities of the current era, noting the shift from a unipolar world order to a new multipolar world system.

Relations with US

On relations with the U.S., Kurtulmus said Türkiye works to address issues diplomatically.

“While we have the opportunity to work together with the U.S. on many issues, we also have significant disagreements on some matters. But Türkiye shares our ideas with our counterparts on how to set aside our differences and solve problems jointly,” he added.

Turkish-U.S. relations have been strained in recent years due to U.S. support for the terrorist group YPG/PYD/PKK in northern Syria and disagreements over Türkiye’s 2017 purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.

“Despite our strategic partnership and close cooperation in many areas, the U.S. continues to provide support to the PYD. This is the most important issue that strains our relations,” Kurtulmus said.

Türkiye has long criticized the U.S. for working with the PKK/YPG/PYD under the pretext of fighting the Daesh terrorist group. Turkish officials argue that using one terrorist group to fight another is illogical.

Ankara has launched several successful anti-terrorism operations since 2016 across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the U.S., and the European Union – has been responsible for over 40,000 deaths, including women, children, and infants. The YPG/PYD is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

‘Serious double standard’: Sanctions

On sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Kurtulmus called Türkiye’s exclusion from the F-35 program a “serious double standard.”

“Türkiye was excluded from a project we were involved in from the very beginning, without any reasonable justification. I hope the money we paid will be returned,” he added.

Washington has tried to deter countries from buying military equipment from Russia, threatening them with punitive measures under CAATSA.

In 2019, under then-President Donald Trump, the U.S. suspended Türkiye from the F-35 fighter jet program after it bought a Russian S-400 missile defense system, claiming the Russian system would endanger the fighter jets.

Türkiye has repeatedly stated that there is no conflict between the two systems and proposed a commission to study the issue. Türkiye also maintains that it fulfilled its obligations on the F-35s and that its suspension broke the rules.

Ankara believes the fighter jets would strengthen not only Türkiye but also NATO.

Previously, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope that Türkiye and the U.S. will make progress in talks and that Ankara will recoup the $1.4 billion it paid for the F-35s.

Kurtulmus said CAATSA sanctions were used against Türkiye as a political tool and described them as “unfair and double-standard sanctions.”

He added that Türkiye has become a country capable of producing its own defense needs and competing globally.

“Thus, as an independent state, we will prioritize our own national security needs as much as our alliances. In this context, Türkiye is not in an arms race but recognizes that arms are a significant global threat.

“But to maintain its sovereignty, especially in a turbulent region, Türkiye must meet its own defense needs,” he said.

Opportunities ahead for Türkiye

Kurtulmus emphasized that global developments offer new opportunities for Türkiye, which is mobilizing its strength to solve problems and establish global peace by enhancing cooperation and solidarity with different regions.

“We share our views with our counterparts, especially on ensuring immediate and permanent cease-fires in the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Gaza crises. We invite people with different perspectives around the world to collaborate in establishing a new, equitable world system.

“It is no longer possible to solve global problems with the current world system. No single state or group can address these issues alone,” he said.

Kurtulmus added that establishing a new world system on both political and economic scales with fresh ideas is essential.

Last Updated:  Jul 9, 2024 11:54 AM