Turkey denies report that Erdoğan’s NATO summit proposal rejected

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French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) speak as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (front L) arrives for family picture during the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Eric FEFERBERG

Ankara has denied a story published by the German Die Welt newspaper on Wednesday reporting that a group of European countries in NATO led by Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark “vehemently” oppose the Alliance’s annual summit being held in Turkey after a downturn in relations between the EU and İstanbul.

“We received with astonishment that in the German ‘Die Welt’ newspaper, it was claimed that the invitation to host a Summit extended by H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey, at the Warsaw Summit in 2016, was rejected by many NATO countries including Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark,” said Hüseyin Müftüoğlu, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement posted on its official website on Friday in response to a question regarding the news article.

Underlining that the exact place and date of the summit is expected to be determined in the coming weeks, Müftüoğlu said: “President Erdoğan declared that we are ready to host one of the early Summits after the Brussels Meeting both at that particular meeting and the previous NATO platforms, as well as during his conversations with NATO Secretary General.”

“Therefore, contrary to the allegation of ‘Die Welt’, it is certainly not the case that our offer to host a NATO Summit was rejected. Such groundless news articles aim to create a negative perception of our country,” added Müftüoğlu.

“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.

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