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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he had “serious concerns” about Turkey’s actions, but stressed that NATO represented an important platform for resolving the Ankara conflict.
“I have expressed serious concerns and we all know that there are serious differences and issues from the Middle East to Turkey’s decision to buy defense systems,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the Arab Weekly.
He added, “But I believe that NATO can at least provide an important platform for negotiating these issues and for serious talks and discussions on various concerns.”
Turkey has angered some of its NATO allies because of its position on the maritime disputes with Greece and its role in the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In response to a question about the differences between Turkey and Greece over the Mediterranean, Stoltenberg said:
“We are a coalition of 30 different forces with different political parties in the government with different histories and geographical areas, so there are differences.”
He added that a mechanism had been put in place to reduce military tensions, paving the way for talks between Greece and Turkey on differences over the eastern Mediterranean.
In another part of his speech, Stoltenberg stressed that NATO is the cornerstone of European security.
He added that more than 90% of EU citizens live in NATO member states. At the same time, European Union member states save only 20% of NATO’s defense budget.
“Therefore, it is clear that the strong transatlantic link in NATO remains the cornerstone of European security now and in the future,” he said.
He cited the immigration agreement between Turkey and the European Union in the Aegean Sea as an excellent example of cooperation between the European Union and NATO, and said that there is strong potential for further cooperation between the European Union and NATO.
Stoltenberg also called on members of the European Parliament to work for more ambitious and practical ways of working with the European Union and NATO.
On the security implications of China’s growing power, he said, “This Asian country is not an enemy and this phenomenon has created real and serious opportunities in the economy.”
Nonetheless, Stoltenberg agrees that the Chinese military development poses challenges “because it has changed the balance of power.”
It is scheduled to meet NATO foreign ministers, including US President Joe Biden, in Brussels next week to attend the first meeting of the alliance.