Eighteen EU countries and Canada will fight for Belgium to host the 2018 NATO summit instead of Turkey, according to a report in the German newspaper Die Welt on Wednesday.
A group of European countries in NATO led by Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark “vehemently” oppose the annual summit being held in Turkey after a downturn in relations between the EU and İstanbul, according to Die Welt.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had invited the leaders of NATO member countries to İstanbul for the 2018 summit during their meeting in Warsaw in July 2016. The leaders had informally assented at the time.
The alliance meets in June to finalize the location of next year’s summit.
“We do not want to enhance Turkey’s international credentials and [we want to] avoid the impression that NATO supports the Turkish government’s internal policy,” a high-ranking NATO diplomat told Die Welt.
Tensions flared earlier this year when some European countries and cities prevented Turkish government officials from campaigning within their borders for a Turkish constitutional referendum designed to help boost Erdoğan’s powers.
In response, Erdoğan accused Europe of conducting “Nazi practices” and threatened to pull out of Turkey’s agreement with the EU designed to prevent migrants from reaching European shores.
In addition, Turkey had also prevented German MPs from visiting German troops stationed at the NATO airbase in İncirlik in southern Turkey.