World Today: Turkey's stance on NATO expansion is ‘blackmail’, expert says

In this episode of World Today, TVP World focuses on Turkey’s role in the context of the war in Ukraine and its recent unenthusiastic stance on the idea of Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

TVP World asked Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum to shed more light on the issue.

To recall, Ibrahim Kalin, President Recep Erdogan’s spokesperson, stressed that Turkey wanted to bring the processual nature of NATO accession to the attention of its NATO allies and Sweden. “We are not closing the door but raising this issue as a matter of national security for Turkey. A hundred percent of our population is very upset with the PKK's presence in Europe… Our main focus is the presence of PKK and other terrorist networks working against Turkey out of Europe,” he said.

“Turkey was from 1952 to 2002 a very good ally for NATO but for the past 20 years, it has been a very bad one. Not even an ally,” Mr Pipes said, adding that “it pursues policies that are hostile to NATO, it’s aggressive towards NATO members, members like Greece, it engages in the invasion of Syria, it threatens Europe with Syrian migrant. The Turkish government sees Europe as a transactional relationship.”

TVP World’s guest was upfront calling Turkey’s policy “blackmail.” “You give us what we want and we will give you what you want. I don’t think Turkey belongs in NATO. I’ve been saying this for a decade,” he said, adding “it is time to expel Turkey from NATO. Let it go to Russia, let it go to China. Good riddance.”

In the light of the abovementioned examples of Turkey’s questionable loyalty to NATO, it begs the question of how may Turkey act if Article 5 is invoked. To recall, under Article 5 of NATO, member states agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. Consequently, they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

I have great doubts whether the Turks would come to the aid of, say, Finland, Sweden or Poland for that matter. The Turks have their own point of view – basically a radical Islamist point of view. It has nothing to do with all the other 29 members of NATO… It belongs in some kind of Iranian-backed alliance, not an American-European-backed alliance,” Mr Pipes felt, adding that it became apparent now that NATO would like to see a considerable enlargement.

Erdogan’s dream of the Ottoman Empire vol. 2.0

Still, Mr Pipes stressed that Turkey is an important country, “It has the second-biggest military in NATO,” adding that people in the Defence Department in Washington find Turkey’s difficult behaviour within NATO “temporary” and that in a couple of years Turkey may return to being a good ally. Mr Pipes does not share this opinion, claiming that “the transformation of Turkey in the last 20 years is similar to the transformation of Iran after the Shah.”

“Erdogan has two main goals. One of them is to apply the Islamic law, the Sharia, in Turkey and to influence other countries to do the same. Secondly, to resume Turkey’s role as a great power, to look back to the Ottoman times… Therefore he has no particular allegiance to anyone,” TVP World’s guest said.

“The Turkish government has basically bad relations with everyone except for Azerbaijan and Qatar,” and as for Ankara’s relations with Moscow, “it is bad. Turkey and Russia are on the opposite sides of the conflict in Libya, in Syria and in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh. The Turks shot down a Russian warplane some years ago. There are plenty of tensions between the two. They are not friends and the same goes for China.”

The bone of contention for Turkey and China has been the plight of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.

If you are interested in how Erdogan’s Turkey of today is different from the one envisioned by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern West-oriented Turkey, scroll up and click the video to find out.