The alliance must have a clear vision to meet new security challenges and a commitment to member support.
Turkey has been a staunch NATO ally since joining the alliance in 1952. We have always been at the forefront of addressing the challenges facing our common security. Our participation in critical missions around the world and the hosting of NATO’s strategic assets on our soil is a testament to our strong and continued commitment to the alliance. Turkey has played a leading role in NATO missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
We consider NATO to be essential for the security of our nation and for peace in our region. While ensuring that we contribute to NATO activities at the highest level, we are also investing heavily in our national defense as a strategic priority. Our national defense spending is close to NATO’s target of 2% of GDP, more than what most alliance members are spending. These investments have increased our national defense capability in recent years and have contributed to the overall strength of the NATO alliance.
In the wake of changing regional security dynamics over the past decade, it is time for NATO to update its Strategic Concept. NATO’s new strategic perspective must be broad enough given the growing size of the alliance in recent years. However, it must also be clear and determined. With the increasing use of hybrid warfare capabilities, the challenges facing our alliance are more complex than ever. At the same time, preparing NATO for this new era is very much within our grasp.
A new concept is to create mechanisms to deal with the differences between the various NATO allies on a number of issues. It must also recognize the need to reconcile national priorities with those of the alliance in the context of rapidly changing regional and global dynamics in recent years, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic. We have different national policies on issues such as international terrorism, migration, human trafficking, cyber threats, etc.
It is clear that we will not be in agreement on all issues. However, reaching an Alliance-wide understanding for a unified response must be a priority for NATO. Our alliance must not only focus on identifying common enemies, but must come together around a common goal that serves our common national interests.
Reaching agreement on all forms of terrorism, including far-right terrorism and Islamophobic attacks, and agreeing on a strategy to counter it must be a top priority.
We also need to develop a more comprehensive security concept to include human security in order to prevent humanitarian disasters and counter asymmetric attacks against our nations.
Turkey is ready to pay its fair share to ensure the collective security of our alliance. Burden sharing should not only concern military budgets and NATO contributions. It must also involve dealing with the refugee crisis in our region. As a country hosting more than four million refugees, we look to our allies for a more constructive approach and a willingness to pay their fair share to meet this historic challenge.
We have received undue criticism in recent years regarding our national security demands and strategic priorities. We welcome any constructive exchange on issues that concern our collective security. We believe that dialogue is always essential to resolve disputes between Member States. As an example of this approach, we have proposed to organize an international conference to resolve disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean.
However, Turkey cannot be expected to undermine its national security and sovereignty to meet the unreasonable demands of some member states and the misperceptions of the regional unrest Turkey has been facing for a decade. now.
In the face of the threat of terrorism and regional instability, Turkey is both capable and determined to ensure its national security. However, we regret to mention that the support of our NATO allies on these fronts has been far from exemplary. We mention this not to underline the already well-publicized frictions, but to underline the need for greater NATO solidarity if we are to prepare for new emerging threats.
The pandemic has taught us that the challenges of the world cannot be met without strong international cooperation. NATO is a prime example of such a cooperative mechanism and its past achievements cannot be overstated. Yet just as we pledged to defend each other through a landmark treaty decades ago, we must be prepared to defend each other against common threats in the future.
For a more secure future, our alliance must use the national capacities of each nation while presenting a well-integrated framework that addresses regional and global changes. NATO can only become more effective in the years to come by recognizing the national priorities of member states and reassuring them of strong support when needed. Turkey has always been and continues to be ready to do its part.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.