NATO must strengthen its political role and dimension in the wake of the coronavirus and beyond, according to Turkey’s Foreign Minister, who said that a group of ten experts has been formed for this goal.
Mevlut Cavusoglu made his comments yesterday after attending a meeting between foreign ministers of NATO member states via teleconference. It also included Turkey’s Ambassador Tacan Ildem, NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy, who was appointed as one of the members of the team of experts on Tuesday.
NATO, which serves primarily as a military alliance, is seeking to use the experts to help it expand its political role. According to a NATO statement on Tuesday they “will offer recommendations to reinforce Alliance unity, increase political consultation and coordination between Allies, and strengthen NATO’s political role.”
In the meeting, Cavusoglu stressed Turkey’s prominent role in the Alliance as well as in the European Union – most of whose member states are also part of NATO – by referring to the 2016 refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union in 2016 as an example. The deal obligated Turkey to host around four million Syrian and other refugees and to prevent them from making their way to Europe in return for €6 billion in assistance and other benefits such as visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.
While Turkey fulfilled its part of the deal, however, the EU did not. “We expect sincerity and honesty from the EU,” he said. “We tell them to think in the long run because this is not just an issue of migration.”
Cavusoglu assured that another agreement could be made with the EU if the Union shows that it is sincere in its promises. “If the EU is not sincere and does not keep its promises, it should not have any expectations of support from Turkey in this matter,” he warned. “This is not a threat. It is a very clear, sincere view and explanation. This is Turkey’s position.”