NATO’s secretary general sees no problem for the military alliance over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s support for the Islamist movement Hamas
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sees no problem for the military alliance because of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s expressed support for the Islamist Hamas movement, which is at war with Israel.
“It’s never easy when we have different opinions within the Alliance,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with the German Agency.
The head of NATO added, however, that this “it doesn’t somehow affect what we do or don’t do because we don’t have a role in that particular conflict.”
After the attack by Hamas in Israeli communities near Gaza, in which more than 1,400 people were killed, Erdogan called the group “liberating”.
The US and the EU, which are Turkey’s NATO allies, characterize Hamas as a terrorist organization.
As a result of the war in Gaza, Erdogan has cut off contacts with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Netanyahu is no longer our interlocutor in any way. We have erased him, we have deleted him,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan had described Israel as a “terrorist state”.
In the past, the Turkish president had described Israel as a “terrorist state”. because of his treatment of the Palestinians and has repeatedly appeared as a champion of the Palestinian cause.
He has also condemned Israel for the more than 10,000 deaths in Gaza due to shelling following the Hamas attacks on October 7, according to data from the Hamas Health Ministry.
There has been no open criticism of Erdogan’s stance from NATO allies, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is expected to welcome Erdogan to Berlin next week.
Stoltenberg rejected speculation that the NATO allies’ silence might be linked to the expected ratification of Sweden’s application to join the Alliance.
“These are two very separate issues,” commented.
The Turkish government submitted the documents to parliament for ratification after the start of the war in Gaza.
“So now, in the midst of the crisis, Turkey is moving forward with the agreement we reached at the NATO summit in Vilniuslast July, where Sweden pledged to do more to fight terrorism,” the NATO chief said.
Stoltenberg stressed that no NATO member has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey and pointed out that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is also designated as a terrorist organization by the EU.
NATO’s 31 members voted very differently at the UN General Assembly when it adopted a resolution calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza.
Turkey voted in favour, along with major EU countries such as France and Spain, while Germany, the United Kingdom and some other NATO countries stayed away.
The US and a few EU member states, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, they voted with Israel against the adoption of the resolution, which contains no criticism of Hamas.
“Although NATO allies agree on many of the core values, I don’t try to hide that there are also differences”.
But that is because NATO is an alliance of 31 countries and this conflict is too complex and dangerous, Stoltenberg added.
“This is also why it is so important that we continue to work towards a peaceful, negotiated solution.”
As he himself said, he cannot imagine a scenario in which NATO would play a role in the conflict.
“NATO has never played a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and we do not seek a role in this conflict,” he said, adding that the alliance’s main task is to protect and defend its territory.
“If this escalates into a wider regional conflict, then of course NATO will have to ensure that it can protect NATO territories,” he concluded, stressing that the main goal today is to avoid such an escalation.
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