Senior NATO military officer General Petr Pavel said that NATO views strong relations with Turkey as a priority.
In an interview with Politico, the NATO Military Committee chairman said that despite tension between Ankara and other NATO members, officials at NATO believed Turkey to be a critical ally.
“We see Turkey as an important NATO ally that needs to be supported,” he said.
Pavel said that NATO allies believed it was crucial to view developments in Turkey “in context.”
A failed coup attempt on July 15 resulted in 249 deaths. Since the defeated coup, operations have been ongoing in the military, police and judiciary.
“Turkey is exposed to both major challenges that NATO is now facing, that is on the one hand, a state actor, Russia, on the other hand, non-state actors, extremism, terrorism and migration,” Pavel said. “All these severely affect Turkey directly.”
General Pavel also commented on Russia’s growing military prowess.
“When it comes to capability there is no doubt that Russia is developing their capabilities both in conventional and nuclear components. When it comes to exercises, their ability to deploy troops for long distance and to use them effectively quite far away from their own territory, there are no doubts,” he said.
“When it comes to intent, it’s not so clear because we cannot clearly say that Russia has aggressive intents against NATO.”
The general warned against the Russian military’s modernization, and added that NATO was not taking the potential threat lightly.
“We take this even potential threat very seriously. We do everything possible to be ready both in terms of capabilities and readiness, to face any potential threat that would mirror the situation we know from Crimea, from eastern Ukraine, not to be repeated against any NATO ally,” the general said.
“We also observe an increased and more assertive attitude in both political and military leadership talking about taking all necessary measures to face NATO military build-up. We face a huge modernization of all Russia military.”