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 liberalization, 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.

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