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Turkey plays key role in fight against terrorism, NATO chief says

November 24, 2020 at 12:55 pm

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Ankara, Turkey on 5 October 2020 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Turkey has played a key role in the fight against terrorism and particularly Daesh, in response to German lawmaker’s claim that Turkey does not share the alliance’s values.

During the 66th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly that took place yesterday, German lawmaker and NATO Parliamentary Assembly member Jurgen Trittin accused Turkey of having no rule of law and of not sharing the values espoused by the military alliance. He asked the NATO chief: “Shouldn’t we look at Turkey not as a partner, but as a spoiler and threat to NATO?”

In response, Stoltenberg denied the remark and stated: “Turkey is a valuable ally and an important ally because they play a key role, for instance, in the fight against international terrorism.”

He also stressed that has been a leading opponent of the terror group Daesh in its neighbours Syria and Iraq, as “they’ve been important in providing the infrastructure and platforms for liberating the territories controlled by ISIS [Daesh].” He added: “No other ally suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey, and no other ally hosts more refugees – close to 4 million refugees.”

READ: Ankara and Washington have work to do to maintain their relationship

Stoltenberg did, however, express his concerns with Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system which has been a primary controversy in NATO-Turkey relations. He also spoke of his concerns over Turkey’s involvement in supporting the Libyan government and assertive stance in the Eastern Mediterranean, which he said he brought up with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent visit to the country.

The head of the Turkish delegation Osman Aşkın Bak also responded to Trittin’s remarks, saying: “Turkey is a democratic country, a valued ally, and Turkey has taken part in all NATO missions.” He asserted that it “is the only country that fights against Daesh/ISIS chest to chest on the ground in Syria.”

Stoltenberg’s and Bak’s responses come after Erdogan said on the weekend that Turkey was the only NATO member to fight on the frontlines against Daesh, and announced that his government had deported almost 9,000 foreign Daesh fighters over the years.