Speaking at a press conference ahead of a key European Union summit on Thursday that will consider sanctions on Turkey over its actions in the eastern Mediterranean, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged the bloc’s leaders not to forget the country’s importance to the transatlantic alliance and to seek out “positive approaches.”
“We need to make sure that we realize the importance of Turkey as part of NATO and also as part of the Western family,” said Stoltenberg, stressing that any disputes between members of the alliance can be resolved through dialogue.
“NATO is a platform where also we can discuss an open way when there are differences, disagreements between allies as we see, for instance, in the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
“At the same time, I think we all have to look for positive approaches, ways to address the differences,” he said.
Stoltenberg admitted that the allies had expressed concerns over Turkey’s behavior during a meeting of NATO defense ministers last week, adding, however, that Ankara’s status had to be viewed through its geopolitical location.
“All allies realize that Turkey is an important ally, because they border Iraq and Syria,” he said.
“I also believe that through these technical talks at NATO on deconfliction, we can also help to pave the way for political negotiations, addressing the underlying main issues, the main dispute,” he said.
Amid recent tensions in the region, EU members are mulling sanctions on Turkey at the EU leaders’ summit on Thursday and Friday.