Fall of democracy: Turkey's Erdogan openly challenging NATO's values

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 07, 2020, 11.02 PM(IST) Oct 07, 2020, 11.29 PM(IST) Edited By: Gravitas desk

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( AFP )

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In the aftermath of the second world war, the purpose was to secure peace in Europe, especially against the Soviet Union

If you surf the website of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), you will spot that it describes the political and military purpose of NATO as "NATO promotes democratic values. NATO's purpose is to guarantee freedom and security of its members."

However, Turkey, a member of NATO, does not fit this criteria.

Under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has descended into authoritarianism. He used a failed military coup in 2016 to tighten his grip on power.There was a massive purge within the military, the courts and the education system. Journalists were jailed, assets of political opponents were seized by the state and dissent  was crushed.

Erdogan has pushed Turkey into a new presidential system where he controls all levers of power. With the country firmly in his grasp Erdogan forged new alliances with Russia and China — two more authoritarian states.

As a result, Turkey is now the biggest liability for NATO and it doesn't represent the values of the organisation. It has befriended the adversaries of NATO. All of this has made Turkey an unreliable partner.

Also read| Turkey under Erdogan: Caught between democracy and dictatorship

However, NATO has still not taken an action on Turkey's changed stance.

The alliance

NATO, which was created in 1949, has 30 members. In the aftermath of the second world war, the purpose was to secure peace in Europe, especially against the Soviet Union. Then the Soviet Union fell and the relevance of NATO came into question.

Today, the NATO says its allies are committed to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

Turkey joined the organisation in 1952 because there was a synergy of interests. Turkey didn't want to fall under the Soviet influence and its military made key contributions in the fight.

However, that is no longer the case. Today, Erdogan is on a collision course with the NATO. It is fighting the allies of NATO itself and that has been visible in Turkey's key activities in the past one year.

In January, Turkey violated a United Nations arms embrago in Libya. Turkish warships escorted a vessel suspected of smuggling weapons into Libya. By June, Turkey was locked in a direct face-off against Greece and France.

NATO's allies have sworn to protect each other. When one is in trouble, all members come to its rescue. However, Turkey was ready to wage a war against Greece to control oil and gas supplies.

Now, Turkey is fueling another conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey is arming Azerbaijan against Armenia.

NATO called for a ceasefire, but Turkey refuses to pay heed to such calls.

"It is extremely important that we convey a very clear message to all parties that they should cease fighting immediately, that we should support all efforts to find a peaceful, negotiated solution because there is no military solution to the situation in and around nagorno-karabakh. And this has been a very clear message from me ever since the fighting started because it is dangerous for all those people involved but it is of course also something which is of great concern for all region and all nato allies," said NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.

Turkey wants to dictate the terms and wants NATO to first ask Armenia to withdraw.

"Both countries are partners of nato. Therefore, it is normal that nato calls for a balanced ceasefire and a peaceful solution but everyone, namely nato, should call for the resolution of this problem under international laws, u.N. Resolutions and azerbaijan's territorial integrity, armenia immediately withdrawing from this region," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The conflict began 11 days ago and it is getting closer to a full scale war. Turkey is sending Syrian fighters to fight for Azerbaijan, and its relationship with many NATO allies is now straining.

Should turkey remain in the military alliance?

NATO has many reasons to expel Turkey. In 2019, Turkey bought the Russian S-400 missile defence system despite vehement objections of the United States and NATO members.

The alliance was concerned about this weapons deal because it is unlikely that Russian weaponry will integrate into NATO's air defences.

The fissures between Turkey and NATO are getting wider. It is an alliance that operates on consensus and all members must be on the same page.

If Turkey remains at odds with, it can stall any policy change, veto any military move and undermine the policy of collective defence.

In fact, it's already doing it as Turkey has blocked NATO partnerships with Israel, Armenia, Egypt and the UAE. For the longest time, it blocked a plan for the defence of Poland and the baltic nations — countries that share a border with Russia.

Reports say, Erdogan relented only after considerable pressure from Washington and this is not just about NATO. Having Turkey on such a major military alliance poses a threat for all.

Erdogan is triggering conflicts and threatening peace, and an alliance that vows to uphold democractic values and peace, must hold its members accountable o dump them.

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