MAJOR: Turkey admits possibility of abandoning NATO

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ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has assured that his country is prepared to leave NATO during a meeting with Russian Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

“I met twice with Turkish President Recep Erdogan and he told me personally that Turkey was willing to withdraw from NATO,” Zhirinovsky wrote.

Turkey is also trying to join the European Union but is it not accepted or even close to fulfilling all conditions.

“Turkey was one of the first countries to be received by NATO because its territory was suitable for actions against Russia,” said Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party (LDPR).

Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and have applied for membership in the European Union since 1999.

However, the purchase by Turkey of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems could not lead to the expulsion of Ankara from NATO, Turkish experts say.

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“I do not think the S-400 agreement is a reason for Turkey’s exclusion from NATO,” said Huseyin Alptekin, a researcher on the strategic program of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) on the margins of the club’s Valdai of International Discussions.

At the same time, Enes Bayrakli, director of SETA’s European Studies Program, pointed out that no one, neither in NATO nor in Turkey, is serious about speculation about a possible withdrawal of Ankara from the alliance over the purchase of the S-400s.

“Turkey’s contribution to NATO is irreplaceable, NATO would be completely different if Turkey left the organization. They would not replace Turkey with anyone, for them the damage would be enormous,” he said.

Hasan Basri Yalcin, director of SETA’s strategic research program, pointed out that Turkey is “a reliable security provider for NATO,” but Ankara does not want to become “a NATO satellite.”

“For Turkey it is unacceptable,” he added.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko said the United States, in demanding that Turkey renounce Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft systems, is pursuing “obvious” economic interest.

“The pressure that the United States exerts on Turkey is not surprising … They are pursuing an obvious economic interest,” Grushko told a news conference.

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