The diplomatic opposition of key Western countries to Turkey’s hosting of the top biennial summit of NATO appears to underscore the growing rift in recent months between then and Turkish leader Recep Erdogan over his worsening democratic and human rights record and anti-Western tirades.
In particular, the bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany, two of the top NATO countries, keep sinking to new lows as Turkish President Recep Erdogan and the Turkish Cabinet continue to implement measures deemed in the West as undemocratic, and do not hesitate to use “Nazi” slurs against Germany and other Western European countries such as the Netherlands.
At the end of May, German daily Die Welt reported that a total of 18 European NATO members plus Canada – out of the total of 28 member states (who became 29 with Montenegro’s admission) – were going to campaign in order to prevent Turkey from hosting the 2018 biennial NATO Summit.
Instead, Canada and the European NATO countries were going to insist that the summit be hosted by Belgium.
According to the German paper, a group of European countries in the North Atlantic Alliance led by Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark “vehemently” opposed the holding of the 2018 NATO summit in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
During the 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, Turkish President Recep Erdogan invited the leaders of the NATO member countries to Istanbul for the 2018 summit, and even though the NATO leaders were said to have informally consented at the time, this appears to have changed in light of the political developments surrounding Turkey since then.
The 2018 biennial NATO Summit will be held at the Alliance’s new headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, the Pact’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Thursday, as cited by Politico.eu.
It is noted that NATO appears to have “rebuffed discreetly” Turkey’s offer to host its next year’s summit.
“I expect the 2018 summit will take place here in Brussels next summer,” Stoltenberg said after a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers.
He did not announce a date for the summit but a NATO official said it would likely take place in early July.
Turkey’s offer remains on the table for the next leaders’ meeting, the official also said.
Privately, NATO diplomats acknowledged to Politico that the establishment of the new headquarters, which was inaugurated last month, provided a convenient excuse for holding the summit in the Belgian capital, and passing up Turkey’s offer at a time of difficult relations between western nations and Ankara.
It is reminded that the tensions mounted after Turkish President Recep Erdogan responded to the failed July 2016 coup attempt by purging hundreds of senior military officials, including many NATO officers.
Turkey’s ‘Key Role’
According to Politico, however, Western nations remain acutely aware that Turkey has a key role in a volatile region.
On the sidelines of the NATO ministers’ meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis met with his Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik and voiced support for Ankara’s fight against Kurdish separatists, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The secretary reaffirmed support for Turkey in its fight against the PKK and plan to increase cooperation on Turkey’s counter-PKK efforts,” the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana W. White, said in a statement.
“The secretary and minister also discussed the crisis in Syria and agreed to continue cooperation to end the scourge of violence and alleviate human suffering there,” she said.
Mattis also met Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz and discussed an American forward operating brigade that is now stationed in Poland as part of an effort by NATO allies to respond to greater military assertiveness by Russia.
Intelligence Post & WHatti