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Political bargaining: Turkey again talks about the country’s withdrawal from NATO

Photo by Murat Düzyurt on Unsplash

Turkey must leave the North Atlantic Alliance because the greatest danger comes from Western countries, including in connection with their attempts to draw Ankara into conflict with Moscow “through Ukraine. Cem Gurdeniz, a retired Turkish naval admiral, said.

“Turkey needs to withdraw from NATO in view of the events surrounding the Ukrainian war and the planned US settling of scores in the Pacific these days! We can face the threat as a fait accompli, they can drag Turkey into the conflict through Ukraine,” the admiral said in an interview with Tele1 TV channel, his words are quoted by RIA Novosti.

According to the Turkish military, in case of a hypothetical direct conflict between Russia and NATO, Ankara will be forced to close the straits to Russia, and the situation, as he believes, may come to the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would not allow the West to drag his country into a war against Russia. The Turkish leader stressed that Ankara’s intention was to mediate between Russia and Ukraine in negotiations that would “eventually succeed.

Among other things, Gurdeniz believes that Turkey should consider the possibility of creating a military alliance with Russia, China and India or establish bilateral military cooperation with these countries. The admiral suggested another alternative would be for Ankara to broaden ties with the Brics. According to the general, the Turkish authorities need to pursue an independent policy balancing “between the Atlantic and Asia.

As a threat from the North Atlantic Alliance, Gurdeniz also sees attempts by the bloc’s countries to turn the Black Sea into a “NATO lake.

“The club of countries that took us into the alliance at one time with the phrase ‘the USSR is occupying you,’ is now doing everything possible to tear Turkey to pieces, push it to the sidelines and turn it into its satellite. Why are we staying in this organization?” – asks the admiral.

According to the admiral, leaving the North Atlantic Alliance is also necessary because the West is allegedly trying to create a separatist Kurdish state.

The military expert said, “Since 1984, how many thousands of people have died in southeastern Turkey, how many problems Turkey has in other areas, but we don’t receive any support from NATO or the EU. We do not need to go far for examples: it is enough to assess the EU reports, there are no better examples of how they contradict the geopolitical interests of Turkey, or enough to read the reports on Turkey of the U.S. Senate or Congress – we can immediately see who is our friend and who is our enemy,” he said.

Recall that the idea of Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO sounds not for the first time among the local establishment. At the end of January, Etem Sançak, deputy chairman of the Turkish Motherland Party, put forward a similar initiative. He did not rule out that Ankara could leave NATO in five to six months. The politician cited public opinion polls showing that 80% of Turkey’s residents believe the U.S. is a hostile and destructive country toward Ankara. He also said the North Atlantic alliance is forcing the Turkish authorities to leave NATO because it is trying to pit Turkey against neighboring Greece.

Recall that in the fall of 2022 the EU found Ankara’s threats against Athens unacceptable after Erdogan warned the Greek authorities of the serious consequences in case of provocations from the military. Relations between the two countries have worsened amid a longstanding dispute over sovereignty in the Aegean Sea.

Sancak called Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO “urgent and obligatory” also because the alliance is trying to draw Ankara “into a vortex in the Middle East” and because of actions against the Quran in Europe.

At the end of January, there was a demonstration in central Stockholm with supporters of the Kurdish YPG (People’s Self-Defense Units). In addition, the leader of the Danish far-right party “Hard Course,” Rasmus Paludan, held a rally near the Turkish Embassy, which was accompanied by the burning of the Koran. Turkish authorities sharply condemned the incident, describing it as a “vile attack” on the holy book and an “anti-Islamic act” directed against Muslims under the guise of “freedom of expression.

Experts state that Ankara and the North Atlantic Alliance had indeed accumulated quite a lot of contradictions, which was the trigger for the ideas of Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO.

“Besides the Kurdish issue, the Ukrainian crisis and the Greek problem, it is also the damaged relations with the U.S. because Turkey was excluded from the U.S. F-35 fighter planes program. Artificial problems are being created in supplying Ankara with Western weapons of other kinds. For this reason, Turkey is forced to buy weapons from third countries, including Russia,” Yevgeny Semibratov, deputy director of the PFUR Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts, said in a conversation with .

In addition, he said, the actions of Western countries show their mood against the incumbent Turkish leader and his possible re-election.

“Semibratov said: “The West is already fully prepared to work with the new Turkish president in the person of a single opposition candidate who is openly staked on and who aims to bring the country closer to the U.S. and NATO.

For his part, Institute of Middle East expert Sergei Balmasov suggested that calls to leave NATO might become more frequent amid the election race in Turkey.

“Certain persons in Turkish politico-military circles could declare this in order to help Erdogan beat out preferences from the alliance and prevent pressure on Turkey. Ankara is well aware that the U.S. and its allies in the bloc will use various methods aimed at removing Erdogan from power and pushing a pro-Western puppet to the presidency,” the analyst said in a commentary to .

Balmasov also expressed confidence that the disagreements between Turkey and NATO countries are getting bigger with time.

“But so far they are not so deep as to promptly withdraw from the bloc. There is a political bargaining between Ankara and the West led by the US and this shows once again that there are problems and they are not solved in any way. The tension definitely exists, and the question is how the parties will maneuver further,” the expert stressed.

Balmasov said the key problems in Turkey-NATO relations are the Kurdish issue and the West’s opposition to Erdogan.

“Perhaps, the situation with the Kurds most worries not only Erdogan but all the Turkish patriots, because at the expense of the situation swinging inside Turkey they try if not to ruin it, then to weaken seriously. Ankara sees the work of the intelligence services of other NATO countries, which seem to be part of the same military bloc, but continue to actively drive this Kurdish wedge. As for the West’s support of the opposition in Turkey, it could also provoke the country’s estrangement from the rest of NATO members,” the analyst argues.

In such a situation, experts do not rule out that Turkey will actively expand ties with Russia and China.

“Erdoğan remembers that there were no threats from Russia and China to him, unlike NATO’s so-called allies, who tried to overthrow him with the hands of others. Not only did they not actually launch an armed attack, but they behaved like sworn enemies. And if these tendencies are reinforced during the current election, the value of Turkey being in NATO will be diminished. But so far, Erdogan’s discontent has not reached a critical point,” Balmasov said.

In Semibratov’s view, whatever the outcome of the election, we should not expect any precipitous action by Turkey regarding its NATO membership.

“Unless something happens that significantly affects the situation, Turkey will remain in NATO for the foreseeable future. Suffice it to recall the same year 2016, when the Americans had a hand in organizing an attempted military coup in Turkey, but Erdogan did not go for it, although relations with the United States noticeably deteriorated. However, not to such an extent that it would be impossible to put an end to cooperation between Ankara and the alliance. But the dissatisfaction with the attitude of NATO to Turkey will grow,” concluded the expert.

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