Ankara rebuked at NATO meeting

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Updated 04 December 2020

Ankara rebuked at NATO meeting

  • Pompeo raps Turkey for opposing ideals and operational principles of alliance

ANKARA: A war of words erupted between Turkey and the US at a virtual NATO meeting during which Turkish “aggressive interventionist behavior” was slammed for undermining the principles of the military alliance.
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu and outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday clashed in a tense verbal brawl in which they accused each other of damaging NATO’s cohesion.
The row further exposed ongoing frictions between Ankara and Washington and posed questions as to how relations between the two NATO allies will be shaped under the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden and if Turkey’s “virtual isolation” will endure in 2021.
Pompeo condemned Turkey for opposing the ideals and operational principles of NATO by continuously inflaming tensions with Mediterranean countries and purchasing a Russian-made missile defense system believed to be incompatible with NATO’s.
Turkey and Greece were engaged in a military deconfliction mechanism in early October under NATO auspices in a bid to de-escalate tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. However, Ankara claimed that the Greek military delegation had failed to join the latest round of talks at NATO headquarters on Nov. 30. Greece was allegedly absent from previous meetings on Oct. 16, 23, and 30.
Pompeo’s criticisms were supported by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who said that the alliance could not maintain its cohesion if Ankara did not change what he described as aggressive interventionist behavior resembling that of Russia.
Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, told Arab News that the quarrel between Pompeo and Cavusoglu should be seen through the lens of the recent US elections.
“With (American President) Donald Trump having lost the election, Pompeo is no longer constrained by the Trump administration’s policy of maintaining friendly ties with Turkey and with (Turkish) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and prefers to score easy goals by criticizing Turkey,” he said.
Joe Macaron, a fellow at the Arab Center Washington, DC, expects Erdogan will lose the direct access he had to the White House under Trump, and will have to deal with a Biden administration that reflects the Washington establishment in prioritizing relations with NATO and reinforcing US commitment to Kurdish groups in Syria.
“US-Turkish relations will be more complex and difficult during the Biden administration, in particular given the expected tough approach toward Ankara in the US Congress next year, but both sides have no option but to somehow manage their differences,” he told Arab News.
Separately, in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Biden warned that Iran getting a nuclear bomb “would put enormous pressure on Turkey.” The Iranian nuclear issue could serve as a litmus test to show if Turkey will turn toward the Western alliance or remain a burden to it.
Macaron said that Biden’s messages to Turkey via The New York Times were an attempt to remind Ankara that its interests were with the US rather than Russia and Iran.
“However, it is not clear to what extent this message is effective without a significant shift either in the US or Turkish policies regarding the S-400 and/or Syria,” he added.

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Erdogan: 10 million CoronaVac doses could reach Turkey by weekend

  • Turkey has already received an initial consignment of three million doses

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday China had approved delivery of a second consignment of the CoronaVac vaccine, produced by Sinovac Biotech, and 10 million doses could arrive in Turkey by this weekend.
Turkey has already received an initial consignment of three million doses and has so far vaccinated 1.166 million people, mostly health workers and elderly people. Erdogan was speaking to reporters in Istanbul.