NATO has ruled out rumors in the media that Turkey’s membership in the military alliance has been jeopardized by the abortive coup of July 15.
NATO spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, said in a statement issued on Wednesday in response to “speculative press reports” that Turkey would remain in NATO regardless of the failed coup and its aftermath.
“Turkey's NATO membership is not in question,” Lungescu said, adding, “NATO counts on the continued contributions of Turkey and Turkey can count on the solidarity and support of NATO.”
Many suspect that Turkey has begun to distance itself from NATO following a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russia Tuesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting marked a major turnaround in Turkey-Russia relations which had reached the freezing point in the wake of Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border in November 2015.
Turkey has also been very critical of the way its Western allies in NATO have reacted to the coup attempt. Erdogan says the United States and the European governments have failed to show enough support for Turkey in the aftermath of the coup.
Lungescu said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had telephoned Erdogan right after the abortive coup to strongly condemn the move and to reiterate full support for Turkey's democratic institutions.
“He expressed support for the elected government of Turkey and respect for the courage of the Turkish people,” Lungescu said, adding, “He also conveyed his condolences for those who had lost their lives during the coup attempt.”
Western governments have criticized Turkey’s massive crackdown on coup plotters. Reports say more than 18,000 people have been arrested as part of the crackdown, while more than 60,000 others have been sacked or suspended from their positions in the government and other public institutions.