Sunday, 20 May 2012

Turkey Stands up for Itself in NATO

Turkey came close to blocking EU reps Jose Manual Barroso and Herman van Rompuy from attending the Summit in Chicago. The two received very invitations, but even now they are restricted to sections of the Summit dealing with Afghanistan, reports VOA.

Clearly Turkish anger at continued blocking of their negotiations to join the EU was behind this move, but it wasn't their first piece of muscle-flexing in the run-up to Chicago. Previously AFP had reported that Turkey refused Israel a place at the Summit:

The Turkish official, who requested anonymity, told AFP earlier Monday: "We have not agreed to this. We don't think Israel should take part in such a forum," adding: "NATO is an alliance to which Israel does not belong." 
Turkish press reports said Israel wanted to take part in the key summit as a participant in the Mediterranean Dialogue cooperation programme with NATO.
This was denied by NATO spokespeople who claimed that there had never been any intention to invite Israel, despite their place in the Alliance's Mediterranean Partnership. However, it is clear that there was at least the possibility that Israel would be represented at the Summit, even if no official invitation was ever sent. This row is the latest manifestation of the declining relationship between the two previously close partners.

It has also been reported recently that important Turkish politicians have publicly advocated Macedonian membership of NATO in the face of continued Greek refusal to countenance such a move.

It seems that these might be signs of Turkey's importance to the Alliance in a vital neighbourhood, and of the increasing confidence of the current government in NATO.

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