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Will Turkey leave NATO?

Observers wonder whether an offer of full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would lure Turkey away from NATO and the country's "suffering" at the hands of the European Union.
A Turkish flag (R) flies among others flags of NATO members during the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo - RTSRWLT

In 2013, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then Turkey's prime minister, surprised many with his statement about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, "Get us out of this suffering [of trying to join the European Union]. We are willing to finalize a free trade agreement with Eurasian countries. I talked about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with [you] before. We care about it."

At that time, his statement sounded like a joke, as he himself described it, or perhaps a provocation — a message to Brussels meaning, "Look, we don't need you, we have other options." Few people in Turkey or Russia took it seriously.

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