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Türkiye and NATO: Redefining the Relations

The Commander of the Turkish Navy, Ercument Tatlioglu, detonated a heavy-calibre bomb in his speech during a ceremony held recently in the city of Yalova, on the occasion of the 133rd anniversary of the founding of the Naval Officers Schools. But its voice went unnoticed amid the world’s preoccupation with the brutal Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip. The bloody massacres committed by the occupation army, and the diplomatic efforts made to reach a humanitarian truce.

Admiral Tatlioglu stressed in his speech that Türkiye guarantees all security in the Black Sea, and that the Black Sea should not be turned into a Middle East. He added, “We do not want any country or NATO to enter.” He also pointed out the extreme importance of the Black Sea from an economic standpoint after discovering natural gas there.

The country that the Turkish admiral did not name in his speech is the United States. Ankara believes that the American presence in the Black Sea may turn the region into an arena of armed conflicts between international and regional powers similar to the conflicts taking place in the Middle East, so that the Russian-Ukrainian war will exceed its borders and threaten the security of all countries neighbouring the Black Sea. Stability in the Black Sea is also essential for Türkiye to continue its research and exploration activities for oil and gas, in addition to extracting discovered natural gas.

Türkiye’s rejection of the American presence in the Black Sea is understandable, but the mention of NATO in the speech of the Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces raised astonishment among Western alliance. The former Turkish ambassador to Washington and representative of the Republican People’s Party, Namik Tan, criticized Admiral Tatlioglu’s statements, mocked him on his X account.

The Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces knows well that Türkiye is a member of NATO, but his statements indicate a redefinition of relations between Türkiye and the alliance, and an emphasis that Türkiye’s membership in NATO does not mean subordination, but rather participation in decision-making to protect its security and interests. It seems that Ambassador Tan himself is ignorant of this fact or is disturbed by it.

Türkiye joined NATO in 1952 after sending a commander in 1950 to the Korean Peninsula to participate in the Korean War alongside American forces. The Turkish soldiers fought from the front, and hundreds of them were killed. Since that date, Western countries have viewed Türkiye as a “reservoir of soldiers” and a “ready military force” for use in implementing NATO plans. American billionaire George Soros once said that the best commodity Turkey can export is its army. But Türkiye no longer accepts being viewed with this superiority.

The President of the Turkish Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visited the German capital, Berlin, a few days ago. In the press conference he held with the German Chancellor, Olaf Schulz, a German journalist asked him about his opinion on whether his position on the Hamas movement and Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip could affect cooperation between countries of NATO. Erdogan responded to the question that Türkiye is one of the most important countries in NATO, ranked fifth in it, and that it is not an ordinary country in the alliance.

[by Isamel Pasha in Arabi 21]

Compiled and Translated by Faizul Haque

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