Turkey is the only NATO member that has fought in close combat against the Daesh/ISIS terror group, the country’s national defense minister said on Friday.
“Turkey is the NATO country that has shouldered the greatest burden to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, and the Turkish Armed Forces is the only NATO army that has fought in close combat against Daesh/ISIS,” Hulusi Akar said at the opening ceremony of the NATO Maritime Security Centre of Excellence in Istanbul.
Turkey is currently hosting nearly four million Syrian refugees without any discrimination, the minister added.
Akar said NATO members “have fought resolutely against terrorist organizations in many parts of the world, [but] unfortunately they have not shown the same determination in taking on the YPG/PKK terror group.”
“Turkey has repeatedly called on its allies to fight together against the YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS terrorist organizations in northern Syria, which threaten our national security and regional stability,” he said.
“Time and again, we told our NATO allies about the need to create a safe zone in Syria. We even agreed on some plans, but the requirements of these agreements were not fulfilled and Turkey was left alone in the fight against terrorism.”
Akar said efforts to bolster NATO are necessary in the current global conditions.
“NATO maintains its raison d’etre and the alliance’s importance is gradually increasing. That is why NATO needs to be further strengthened and function in the true spirit of an alliance,” he said.
The Turkish official, however, emphasized that “NATO is more meaningful and stronger” today and “will move forward into the future with more confidence.”
On Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Akar said Ankara is ready to address all technical concerns of its partners.
“We are open and transparent in all talks [on the issue]. Reasonable and logical solutions are always possible,” he asserted.