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Turkey seeks to refresh NATO ties to balance Russia

Turkey seems to have failed to get all it wanted from the NATO summit in London, but even an incomplete outcome meets its purpose of balancing ties with Russia by refreshing ties with NATO.

Turkey went to NATO’s 70th anniversary summit in London with a big delegation and after tight preparations, as all pro-government quarters turned pro-NATO this week and the whole Turkish media focused on the two-day event that ended Dec. 4. It is perhaps fair to say that never since the coup attempt in July 2016 has Turkey witnessed such a positive sentiment toward NATO, especially in the pro-government media. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had looked forward to the summit, to which he went with a thick file, seeking to win support for Turkey in the row over its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, its ongoing military campaign in northeast Syria and a related plan to resettle Syrian refugees in a safe zone in the region. Another major objective was to get NATO to recognize the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terrorist group. The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, which NATO already sees as a terrorist organization. Mounting tensions in the eastern Mediterranean and Ankara’s efforts to secure the extradition of Gulenists from NATO countries were other important items in Erdogan’s dossier. 

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