Trump says Turkey very good member of NATO… or will be, while Erdogan challenges alliance to keep up with the times
Turkey, which demands “unconditional” support from other NATO members for its fight against Kurdish militias, is a “very good member” of the alliance which “could not have been nicer” to the US, President Donald Trump believes.
The compliment to Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who Trump once cautioned not to be a “fool,” came as NATO members are gathering in the UK to mark its anniversary. Sitting alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said as far as he is concerned, Turkey is just fine.
I like Turkey. And I get along very well with the president. He is a very good member of NATO, or will be.
Trump added that Turkey “could not have been nicer” to the US when it went after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was hiding in the part of Syria largely controlled by Turkish-backed military groups.
“We flew over areas that were totally controlled by the Turks and the Turkish military. We said we were coming. They were very supportive, actually. We didn’t tell them what we were doing and where we were going. Turkey could not have been nicer and more supportive,” he said.
Trump also addressed Turkey’s purchase of Russian long-range surface-to-air missiles. He criticized his predecessor, Barack Obama, for not allowing Ankara to buy the American product instead and seemingly blasted his own administration for punishing Turkey for the Russian purchase by cutting Turkey off the F-35 fighter jet program.
“All they are going to do now is they will go to another country whether it is Russia or China. They don’t want to do it. They want to buy the best plane… But they are making it very difficult for them to buy it in Washington,” Trump said.
Earlier in the day, Erdogan demanded NATO’s support for Turkey’s military campaign targeting Syrian Kurdish militias, which has been a matter of great controversy for European allies. The Turkish leader demanded NATO renew itself to keep up with the times, and said his country will continue to block NATO’s plan for deployment of assets in Eastern Europe, unless his demand is met.
Stoltenberg, during his meeting with Trump, tried to downplay the conflict within the military bloc, saying NATO’s strength comes from its ability overcome differences for the sake of fighting for a common security goal.
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