Ankara, Nov 22 (IANS) The incident that has caused tensions between NATO and Turkey during an exercise in Norway last week was a “provocation” against an indispensable ally of the western world but actually snubbed because of contentious foreign policy decisions, experts said.
“I think it was a planned and deliberate provocation … I do not agree to the judgment that this matter should be considered as a minor incident. On the contrary, it is a major scandal that would lead to the reaction of the Turkish people,” Xinhua news agency quoted Mustafa Kibaroglu from MEF University in Istanbul as saying.
Kibaroglu, an expert on international relations, was referring to the blunder in a NATO military drill, where a civil contractor depicted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an “enemy collaborator” and Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was shown as “hostile”.
Turkey immediately decided to withdraw from the drill followed by apologies from the NATO and Norway. Erdogan lashed at a “vile” and “treacherous” attitude towards his country, sign of a serious rift between Turkey and the west in general.
“The fact that the person who is behind this is not within NATO’s institutional structure does not reduce the scope of this scandal,” noted Kibaroglu.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party, also supported the requests of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for a full blown investigation on the incident.
Erdogan’s chief adviser Yalcin Topcu said that “it’s time to reconsider the issue of Turkey’s membership to NATO”, according to local media.
Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has the second largest army in the alliance after the US.
There is growing antagonisms between Ankara and some of its allies within the military bloc. Ankara’s decision to buy sophisticated Russian air defence systems caused concern among the NATO members, including the US, because mainly of lack of interoperability with NATO weapons.
Turkey has considerably strengthened cooperation with Moscow after a bilateral spat in 2015 over the downing of a Russian fighter over Syria.
Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, as well as their Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, will meet on Wednesday in Sochi, Russia, to coordinate their cooperation in Syria, another high-level meeting closely followed by western capitals, especially Washington.
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