NATO to set up new command station in Turkey, says former US ambassador to Ankara

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AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST

NATO will open up a new command station in Turkey in a couple of years, Robert Pearson, a former US ambassador to Turkey, said while answering questions on the US political show “Plugged in with Greta Van Susteren” on Saturday.

Van Susteren asked whether there was a chance Turkey would leave NATO, and Pearson said it would be “the worst possible step [Turkey] could take” and that he doesn’t see Turkey withdrawing from NATO.

Reminding of the prestige and benefits Turkey receives from being a part of NATO, Pearson said: “They’re going to have a new NATO command station in Turkey in the next couple of years … they have a voice at the table every single week on issues affecting transatlantic and European security.”

Van Susteren raised recent issues in US-Turkish relations and asked how American pastor Andrew Brunson, under house arrest and standing trial in Turkey, and the growing tension between the Trump administration and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the Brunson case had affected the Turkish lira and the Turkish economy, saying that the lira drastically lost value against the US dollar after a disagreement between the two administrations on releasing the American pastor.

“Solving the Brunson case itself would help the Turkish economy only temporarily. The Turkish economy has been troubled and weak for years, and Mr. Erdoğan’s theory of economics is worsening the problem,” Pearson said, adding that the right economic solution for Turkey would be raising interest rates.

Van Susteren emphasized that Erdoğan blames the US and the Trump administration for Turkey’s economic problems and asked another guest, Sinan Ciddi, executive director of Turkish studies at Georgetown University, for the Turkish public’s take on the issue.

Pointing out that a recent attack on the US Embassy in Ankara was a result of the heightened antipathy of the Turkish public towards the US, Ciddi said: “Views about the United States by the average Turkish citizen had always been negative. Anti-Americanism in Turkey had always been quite high, but particularly since the onslaught of Erdoğan against the United States in blaming it for its current economic sort of malaise, that really has ratcheted it up with obviously the recent attack on the US Embassy in Ankara.”

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