NATO Review – Turkey: interview with Defence Minister Yilmaz

October 9, 2019 posted by


Turkey: interview
with Defense Minister Yilmaz Minister Yilmaz, 2012
represents the 60th anniversary of Turkey joining NATO. How would you say
NATO is perceived in Turkey, both by the politicians
and the public in general? Through joining NATO in 1952
Turkey determined its direction and its security
as the same as the West’s. This was not a decision
Turkey took only in 1952, this was the consequence
of Turkey supporting Western values. Let’s not say Western,
universal values, which are democracy, human rights
and core values of human rights based on the rule of law, with the
West in the last two hundred years and with the values
that the West supports, seeking for its security
within the West. Therefore, for Turkey NATO
means turning towards the West. An expression of heading towards
core human rights and the rule of law. You head towards the direction
where you see your own security. Turkey’s security is in the West, Turkey’s preference is
also the West. Your preferences indicate
where you want to join. With Turkey joining NATO in 1952, Turkey showed that
its fundamental choice is West, NATO. Among the public
there is a perception that NATO provides
enough security to Turkey. Therefore, the public is pleased.
Even in 1952, earlier times, Turkey joined NATO with the joint
agreement of the party in power and the main opposition party. Therefore, there is
no discrimination among the public. Again, for today as well as in terms
of reaching to universal values and for the Turkey, who is seeking
her for its security in the West. In Turkey there is an agreement
with a big majority that believes that NATO is the right
organisation for Turkey’s defence. Do you feel that, following
the upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East, starting
in 2011 and continuing into 2012, makes Turkey’s position
in the Mediterranean far more important geopolitically? Middle Eastern and
East-Mediterranean countries have been the cradle of many
conflicts, transitions for centuries. This transitional process in the Middle
East has not finished even today. Turkey has increased
its income per capita three times, its national income more
than three times in the last decade. So Turkey is
in a good economic condition. Both a Muslim country and a country
that has democratic values and democracy, that is respectful
to local values in this respect, that adopts democracy
and is an EU candidate country. For the countries in North Africa, the countries where
the Arab Spring has been inspired, and for most countries in the Middle
East, at least for a part of the public, these criteria are a model. They think that Turkey is showing
that it is possible to develop and to reach
a contemporary level of civilisation while taking core values as a base,
as well as to protect those values. And they take Turkey as a model. As a country inside NATO,
with its increasing economic power, part of the West in terms of defence
and EU candidate country, Turkey is a good example
for many countries in the Middle East. Look at the countries
in the Middle East today. One of the rare countries
with peace and stability is Turkey. In Turkey
we have a very basic principle. Peace at home, peace in the world,
peace shall remain everywhere, both in our country,
in the region and in the world. We say that
without neglecting the EU and NATO, but without forgetting the rest
of the world and the Middle East. Through cooperation we can provide
peace and stability in the region. But providing peace and stability
in the region is not something that Turkey can do by itself.
The international community, EU and NATO, should also support
Turkey in this direction to provide peace and stability
in the Middle East. Why? Because Turkey knows
the region better than outsiders. We have lived together
for four hundred years, five hundred years
with some countries. The country that can solve
their differences is Turkey. As long as Turkey has support,
we understand other countries. We respect their values
and we want them to have peace without any malicious intentions. We have a saying that everybody’s
wish is the heaven on the world. So in the North African
and Middle Eastern countries, what people are asking for
is peace and living in a better world. Turkey is a model for that. Compared to the past,
it is in a better condition. Thereby, Turkey can
show its example model, both in the Middle East
and North Africa. As you know, the Middle East
is the energy distribution zone for this energy distribution region.
Turkey being in NATO has an additional contribution
to the security of these energy lines. With the support
of the EU and NATO, the security of these lines
can be better provided and there will be
stability in the region. People who are living in this region
need democracy, freedom and bread as much as people in Europe. I think we can do it
through cooperation. The NATO summit in Chicago in 2012
will focus heavily on smart defence. How do you feel that countries
like Turkey can make more efforts and become
more successful in this area? Smart defence has been brought to
the agenda by the Secretary-General and Turkey has supported
this from the beginning. Turkey is supporting
over a hundred and sixty, almost a hundred and seventy
projects and joining many of them. With smart defence
the purpose is not cutting expenses, but spending money more efficiently. You will spend
the same money more efficiently. You will use the money
more efficiently and effectively. So what NATO wants will require bringing both specialisation and
priorities without creating any gaps. In the meantime, with joint projects
co-ordination will be required and increased cooperation. We have seen this
and experienced it a lot in the past. The best example is
building the F-35 JSF aircrafts. Inside and outside NATO
with Australia getting involved, a project that many countries
had a joint interest in. Hence,
using the money more efficiently, is the principle, not spending less. With smart defence,
specialisation is essential. And setting priorities of member
nations inside NATO is important. Therefore, through prioritisation,
specialisation and cooperation we get a much more efficient defence
system with the same money. Turkey has now joined a 167 projects
and is leading some of them. And Turkey agreed to host the new
missile defence radar system in her territories recently. This is the best example
of smart defence, the system that will be used
for NATO’s purposes. An agreement has been made
with the United States. This has been a big step in providing
more efficient defence system with the ballistic missile defence
system, with Turkey doing its part. And it is going to be declared
at the Chicago summit that this missile defence system will
reach in term operational capability.

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