Calls for Turkey NATO withdrawal unwise, 'opposition' CHP party says

"The NATO secretary general has offered the apology for this. So call for leaving NATO is not reasonable"
Thursday, 23 November 2017 02:31

The calls voiced by several Turkish politicians about the need to withdraw from NATO are unreasonable and aimed at gathering support ahead of the forthcoming elections, Öztürk Yılmaz, the Turkish parliamentary opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy chair, told Sputnik.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced his decision to withdraw 40 Turkish servicemen from the Trident Javelin NATO drills in Norway after he and founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had been listed as enemies during the exercise. Despite the fact that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg offered his apologies to Erdoğan, the president's chief adviser proposed to reconsider Ankara's membership in the Alliance.

"What happened is absolutely wrong, but we have to assess this within its scope, not beyond the scope. The NATO secretary general has offered the apology for this. So call for leaving NATO is not reasonable. It is just for domestic political consumption in Turkey, which is happening particularly to gain more support on the eve of elections. We are having 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections and also the local election. We think that these outspoken statements to leave NATO are just nothing more than for domestic political consumption," Yılmaz said.

The politician added that the incident, which he believed was caused by "a staffer in NATO," should be vigorously condemned.

"We ask a legal process to be launched against all persons associated with this incident ... We have to be reasonable, rational and assess the situation within its context not in more than that. This [incident] should not be repeated of course. It deserves strong condemnation," the CHP member added.

Yılmaz said he regarded Turkey's NATO membership as a beneficial one, adding that he thought Ankara would continue its relations with the military bloc.

Turkey joined NATO back in 1952, during the Alliance's first enlargement.