BRUSSELS, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 10th August, 2016) - NATO said Wednesday that Turkey's membership of the military alliance is "not in question" following the failed coup in July as the organisation stressed its "very clear position" of continued support for Ankara. "Turkey's NATO membership is not in question," spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in a statement issued in response to "speculative press reports". "NATO counts on the continued contributions of Turkey and Turkey can count on the solidarity and support of NATO," Lungescu said.
The statement comes the day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a highly-symbolic visit to Russia to mend fences, sparking speculation that Ankara's close ties with the West could be at risk. Turkey is the second largest military power in US-led NATO and is a crucial ally as the West faces unprecedented conflict and upheaval across the middle East. Erdogan has sharply criticised the United States and the European Union for not doing more to show support in the aftermath of the bloody coup.
He has also bristled at their warnings that he should not undermine humans rights and democratic norms in the subsequent crackdown which has netted thousands of people. In the statement, Lungescu recalled that NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg had telephoned Erdogan in the immediate aftermath of the abortive putsch "strongly condemning the attempted coup and reiterating 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," she noted. "He also conveyed his condolences for those who had lost their lives during the coup attempt."