NATO should strengthen its political role: Turkish FM
NATO’s political dimension should be strengthened, and a group of 10 experts has been formed for this purpose, Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday.
Mevlut Cavusoglu made the remarks after attending a NATO foreign ministers meeting, noting the group includes Turkey’s Ambassador Tacan Ildem, who has been working as NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy.
Cavusoglu recalled that Turkey has fulfilled all its duties under the March 18, 2016 EU-Turkey refugee agreement while the EU has not.
“We expect sincerity and honesty from the EU. We tell them to think in the long run because this is not just an issue of migration,” he said.
He noted that the EU should do its part on issues such as visa liberalisation, updating the Customs Union Agreement and counter-terrorism.
Cavusoglu said an agreement would be made if the EU is sincere in this matter.
“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. This is not a threat. It is a very clear, sincere view and explanation. This is Turkey’s position,” he said.
-Turkey’s acts of solidarity appreciated by NATO
Cavusoglu noted that many NATO members had mentioned Turkey’s acts of solidarity in recent times.
He said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and other foreign ministers appreciated Turkey sending medical aid to fight the novel coronavirus in Italy and Spain.
A Turkish military aircraft carrying medical aid departed from the capital Ankara on Wednesday for Italy and Spain, the nations worst-hit in Europe by the novel coronavirus.
Italy’s death toll has reached 13,915, the highest globally. Spain has reported 10,348 fatalities so far.
After originating in Wuhan last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 180 countries and regions across the world, with its epicenter shifting to Europe, while China has largely come out of the crisis.
NATO meeting agrees on measures to fight coronavirus
NATO chief says alliance is focusing on coordinating, supporting national efforts against COVID-19 pandemic.
The NATO’s foreign ministers meeting on Thursday agreed on measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the military alliance said.
“NATO was created to deal with crises”, Jens Stoltenberg said following the videoconference meeting, adding the alliance is coordinating and supporting national efforts against the pandemic.
The ministers agreed to task the NATO’s top commander Gen. Tod D. Walters to direct the necessary military support to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to a NATO statement.
In the upcoming weeks, NATO countries will assess their airlift capacities to ensure that medical supplies are delivered in a coordinated way.
They will also check their other surplus capacities or stocks in order to better match support requests from allies and partners.
NATO defense ministers will meet in mid-April via videoconference to discuss the results of the assessments and the long-term effects of the coronavirus.
NATO allies have already provided help by airlifting critical medical supplies, providing medical personnel and equipment, as well as ensuring transparent and timely information, Stoltenberg said.
The secretary-general described Turkey’s delivery of medical supplies to Italy and Spain as a good example and expressed his gratitude for further offers made by the foreign ministers during the meeting.
The foreign ministers also agreed on the next steps to fight terrorism by strengthening NATO’s partnerships across the Middle East and North Africa.
They also decided to boost the alliance’s training mission in Iraq and taking over the training activities from the global coalition.
“We know that other threats and challenges haven’t gone away. NATO’s primary responsibility is to deliver security on the fence for almost 1 billion people,” the NATO chief reminded.