Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Nato reassures allies on Trump and Erdogan

  • Stoltenberg (l) with Erdogan (r) at the Nato congress in Istanbl (Photo: tccb.gov.tr)

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg has voiced confidence that both the US and Turkey would remain steadfast allies in the Western bloc.

Speaking at a Nato congress in Istanbul on Monday (21 November), he said: “I look forward to working with [US] president-elect Donald Trump. The partnership between Europe and the United States has been rock-solid for almost 70 years” and has “always received bi-partisan support in the United States”.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He added that Trump had personally assured him of his “strong support” in a phone call last week.

Turning to the Turkish leader, Erdogan, he said that Turkey’s parliamentary democracy “must be vigorously defended” in the context of the failed putsch on 15 July.

“I want to salute them today for their courage and dedication to democracy”, he added, referring to Turkish MPs and to the crowds of Erdogan supporters who went out on the streets to challenge tanks and jets on the night of the attempted coup.

Asked if Erdogan was right to launch a purge of alleged putsch sympathisers, he said Turkey had a “right” to prosecute the people responsible for the events, but said that “this has to be done in accordance with the rule of law”.

He said Nato would press ahead with plans to accept Montenegro as its newest member at a summit in Brussels next year.

He also said it would deploy US-led Russia-deterrent forces in the Baltic region and in the Black Sea area in “early 2017”.

His comments on Trump reflect anxieties raised by the president-elect, who said in his campaign that Nato was an outdated Cold War institution and that he would not defend allies who did not spend more on their own defence.

Stoltenberg’s remarks on Turkey come amid Erdogan’s criticism of US and EU reactions to the failed coup and to Erdogan’s recent rapprochement with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan’s post-coup purge has seen him arrest tens of thousands of people, including opposition MPs, shut down independent media, speak of reinstating the death penalty, and of holding a referendum, next year, on whether to uphold Turkey’s EU membership bid.

Erdogan, in Istanbul on Monday, continued to harangue the US and the EU for what he called their sheltering of “terrorist” groups, such as people loyal to Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic guru who lives in exile in the US and whom Erdogan says organised the coup, as well Kurdish separatist groups, such as the PKK, the PYD, and YPG.

“We want you to prevent members of terrorist organisations from moving freely in your countries, making propaganda, recruiting militants, and racketeering,” he said.

“We cannot tolerate the fact that the PKK, which the European Union has designated as a terrorist organisation, roams so freely in EU member countries with posters of the terrorist chief, and also with its banners in the corridors of the [European] Parliament building”, he added.

Shanghai threat

He also said, in separate remarks on Sunday, that he might join the China and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Council instead of seeking EU membership.

“Turkey must feel at ease. It mustn't say 'for me it's the European Union at all costs'. That's my view," he said.

"Why shouldn't Turkey be in the Shanghai five? I said this to Mr Putin, to [Kazakh president] Nazarbayev, to those who are in the Shanghai five now”, he said.

Turkey has called on the US to extradite Gulen and for Germany to decline asylum reuqests filed by 40 or so Turkish military officers.

The US state department spokesman, James Kirby, said on Monday: “On the Gulen thing, I would say that’s really a matter for the justice department”.

Stoltenberg said on the German asylum issue: “It would be wrong if we started to go into that kind of legal issue, that’s for the judicial system [in Germany]”.

Putin threat

The Nato meeting coincided with the screening of a new US documentary on Russia in which Putin said that he would move nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, enabling them to strike Warsaw or Berlin.

"We are concerned by Nato decision making … We have, therefore, to take countermeasures, which means to target with our missile systems the facilities that in our opinion start posing a threat to us”, he said.

Speaking at a conference on EU-Nato cooperation also on Monday in Brussels, EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini, said: “I know there are some, both in Europe and America, who are worried today about the future of Nato and the future of the transatlantic bond”.

She said the EU’s best response to the new challenges would be to press ahead with EU-level military integration and to conduct a more forceful foreign policy.

“For the first time ever we are moving towards a real European Union of security and defence”, she said.

“We cannot simply hide behind our borders … We must engage with the world, starting with our region and we must engage with all our power”, she said.

Interview

Let's not lecture Trump, says top German MP

Europeans need to propose "projects of common interest" to the US president to preserve "Western unity" on Russia, Norbert Roettgen, the chair of Bundestag's foreign affairs committee said.

Analysis

Lukashenka: End of an era?

The political spring in Belarus ended just as the actual season began, but greater changes loom after 23 years of dictatorship.

News in Brief

  1. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU
  2. Support for Germany's anti-EU party fading
  3. Turkish intelligence not welcome in Germany
  4. US senate approves Montenegro’s Nato bid
  5. Scottish MPs give go ahead to seek referendum
  6. Uber pulls out of Denmark over new taxi-regulation
  7. EU court validates sanctions on Russia's Rosneft
  8. Luxembourg to team up with Ireland in Apple tax appeal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  2. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  4. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  5. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsDomestic Violence in Tajikistan: Time to Right the Wrongs
  7. European Trust SummitCorporate Strategy and Public Affairs in a Low-Trust World - Conference 31 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Agreement Reached to Involve Consumers in Financial Services Policymaking
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cities Gather Against Violent Extremism & Introduce Nordic Safe Cities
  10. World VisionFears and Dreams of Syria's Children and Their Peers Around the World
  11. Malta EU 2017Maltese Presidency and EP Agree on Visa Liberalisation for Ukraine
  12. Mission of China to the EUEU Window Chinese Government Academic Scholarship 2017/18 - Apply Now