Turkey’s vision for NATO in an era of global challenges | opinions
The alliance needs to have a clear vision to deal with new security challenges and promise to support its members.
Since joining NATO in 1952, Turkey has been a staunch ally of NATO. We are always at the forefront of meeting the challenges facing common security. We have participated in vital tasks around the world and hosted NATO strategic assets on our land, which proves our continued firm commitment to the alliance. Turkey has played a strong leadership role in NATO missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and other regions.
We believe that NATO is indispensable for the security of our country and the peace of our region. Because we ensure that we contribute to the highest level of NATO activities, we have also made significant investments in national defense as a strategic priority. Our defense expenditure is close to NATO’s goal of 2% of GDP, which exceeds the expenditure of most alliance members. In recent years, these investments have improved our defense capabilities and contributed to the overall strength of the NATO alliance.
With the changes in regional security dynamics in the past decade, it is time for NATO to update its strategic concept. In view of the continuous expansion of NATO in recent years, NATO’s new strategic prospects must be broad enough. However, it must also be clear and purposeful. Given the increasing use of hybrid warfare capabilities, the challenges facing our alliance are more complex than ever. At the same time, preparing NATO for this new era is entirely within our capabilities.
A new concept must establish a mechanism to resolve the differences between NATO allies on many issues. It must also recognize that in the rapidly changing regional and global dynamics in recent years, it is necessary to align national priorities with coalition priorities, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic. We have different national policies on issues such as international terrorism, immigration, human smuggling, and cyber threats.
Obviously, we will not agree on every issue. However, reaching consensus within the alliance to make a unified response must be NATO’s priority. Our alliance should not only focus on identifying common enemies, but must also come together around a common goal that serves the national interests of all of us.
Reaching an understanding on all forms of terrorism, including far-right terrorism and Islamophobic attacks, and agreeing on a strategy to combat terrorism must be one of the first tasks.
We must also develop a more comprehensive security concept that includes human security to prevent humanitarian disasters and respond to asymmetric attacks on our country.
Turkey is ready to pay its due share to ensure the collective security of our alliance. Burden sharing cannot only involve military budgets and contributions to NATO. It must also include responding to the refugee crisis in our region. As a country hosting more than 4 million refugees, we expect our allies to take a more constructive approach and are willing to pay the due price for this historic challenge.
In recent years, we have received undue criticism in terms of national security requirements and strategic priorities. We welcome any constructive exchanges on issues related to our collective security. We believe that dialogue is always the key to resolving differences among member states. As an example of this approach, we propose to organize an international conference to resolve disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.
However, it cannot be expected that Turkey will harm its national security and sovereignty in order to adapt to the unreasonable demands of some member states and the wrong view of the regional turbulence that Turkey has been facing for a decade.
Faced with the threat of terrorism and regional instability, Turkey has the ability and determination to ensure national security. However, we regret to point out that the support of our NATO allies in these areas is not exemplary. We mention this not to emphasize the already well-known frictions, but to emphasize that if we are to prepare for emerging threats, we need to strengthen NATO unity.
This pandemic tells us that without strong international cooperation, we cannot meet the challenges of the world. NATO is a good example of this cooperative mechanism, and its past achievements cannot be overstated. However, just as we pledged to defend each other through a historic treaty decades ago, we must be prepared to resist common threats together in the future.
For a safer future, our alliance must use the national capabilities of each country while proposing a comprehensive framework for addressing regional and global changes. NATO can only become more effective in the coming years by recognizing member states’ national priorities and assuring them of strong support when they are really needed. Turkey has been and will continue to prepare to do its part.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.