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Turkey aftermath: NATO chief says military still strong despite detentions

"Turkey has a large armed force, professional armed forces and ... I am certain they will continue as a committed and strong NATO ally," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg

By: Reuters | Washington | Published: July 21, 2016 3:32 am
NATO, Turkey Coup attempt, Turkey Military, Turkey military still strong, Turkey military after coup attempt, Turkey military not weakened, Turkey coup aftermath, Turkey coup attempt latest, Turkey latest, turkey news, latest news, World news, international news Supporters of Turkish President Recep Erdogan shouts slogans during a rally at Kizilay main square, in Ankara, Turkey. Some 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the military coup attempt.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The purge of thousands in the Turkish military in the aftermath of an attempted coup has not weakened the country’s military, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

“Turkey has a large armed force, professional armed forces and … I am certain they will continue as a committed and strong NATO ally,” Stoltenberg told reporters in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting of defense officials from more than 30 countries involved in the coalition against Islamic State.

Some 60,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the military coup attempt, increasing tension across the country of 80 million that borders Syria’s chaos and is a Western ally against Islamic State.

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About a third of Turkey’s roughly 360 serving generals have been detained since the failed coup on July 15.

The armed forces last used force to stage a successful coup in Turkey more than 30 years ago.

On Wednesday, Dutch, German and Canadian foreign ministers expressed concern about the scale of the crackdown by Turkish authorities and called on Turkey to respect the rule of law.

Stoltenberg said he expected Turkey’s reaction to the coup attempt to be proportionate and in line with the values of NATO, adding that there were no talks to reconsider Turkey’s membership in the military alliance.

“It is important for all of us that Turkey continue to be a strong NATO ally because Turkey is on the border of all the instability, all the violence we have seen in Iraq and Syria,” Stoltenberg said.

Speaking with reporters after the defense ministers meeting at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the meeting focused on what happens after the defeat of Islamic State in terms of stabilization and reconstruction.

Stoltenberg said there was a greater need to share intelligence in general within NATO and specifically in respect to the fight against the militant group Islamic State.

“Partly we need … to collect more intelligence and partly we need to have better routines, better mechanisms for sharing intelligence as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said.

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  1. Mohammed Khan
    Jul 20, 2016 at 11:52 pm
    Ankara is a difficult ally for America, but the Obama administration took the right approach, immediately backing Turkey’s elected government. Turkey, like Egypt three years ago, offered no good choices. Democracy is yielding ever more illiberal outcomes, with Erdogan seemingly determined to accrue Putinesque powers. Yet military rule could succeed only by killing and imprisoning on a large scale.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Moreover, a successful junta was likely to produce a society with even less liberty and respect for human rights. The hypocrisy would be particularly glaring if the U.S., a government formally committed to the expansion of democracy, advocated the ouster of a democratically elected government (rather like in Ukraine, though that was more by street revolution than coup). Of course, had the putsch succeeded the U.S. and European states would have faced significant pressure to reluctantly accept the regime.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an increasingly agresive president elected democratically. He could only be removed but by Turkey’s voters, not its military. He emerges from the latest crisis strengthened. If his arrogance did not exceed his wisdom, he would use the failed coup as an opportunity to address the substantial portion of the potion which has come to loath and even fear him. He should reclaim his lost mantle for liberal and democratic change.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Someday Turkey will be truly free. Hopefully a military coup will never be necessary to make it so.
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