NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a speech at the European Parliament (EP) revealed that the alliance will put democratic backsliding in Turkey on its agenda in the upcoming period.
“I have expressed my serious concerns, and we all know there are serious differences and some issues, ranging from the eastern Mediterranean to the Turkish decision to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system and related to democratic rights in Turkey,” Stoltenberg told MEPs yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported.
Stoltenberg said he believed the organization “at least can provide an important platform for discussing these issues, raising these issues and having serious debates and discussions about different concerns.”
Erosion of the rule of law and democracy in Turkey might become an important topic at a NATO foreign ministers meeting to be held next week in Brussels for the first face-to-face meeting with Biden’s team.
In his speech at the 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference in February, US President Joe Biden underlined the importance of democracy and the rule of law for the US-EU security partnership, saying: “Our partnerships have endured and grown through the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values. … They’re built on a vision of a future where every voice matters, where the rights of all are protected and the rule of law is upheld.”
Though it has been a NATO member since 1952, Turkey has angered members of the alliance over the last few years in a string of moves.
Ankara has drawn the ire of some of its allies in the 30-nation grouping over its stance in a maritime territorial dispute with fellow NATO member Greece and its role in the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In December Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey’s military procurement agency over Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400 missile defense system from NATO rival Russia.
President Biden has maintained a tough line over the purchase of Russian arms as his administration continues to figure out its approach to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.