Speculations have been high as to the possible ramifications of the recent détente with and offering Incirlik Air Base by Turkey to Russia on Ankara’s strategic ties with the west as a NATO member. Incirlik, a southeast Turkish air base, has been long a center for US nuclear weapons deployment and a NATO forces base; recently, Turkish army crossed the Syrian border to occupy Jarablus, embarking on Operation Euphrates Shield to clear the area of ISIL and to return back Kurdish militia to east of Euphrates, the crossing of which Turkey had announced a red line for herself. There is speculation that Turkey had the advice of the US and Russia in such an undertaking, about which Osman Faruk Loğoğlu answered few questions by Payman Yazdani of Mehr News International service:
Turkish PM has announced that Russia would use Incirlik Air Base if necessary. Would this harm Turkey's strategic partnership with NATO?
The proposed use of Incirlik by Russia should have no impact on Turkey’s relations with NATO so long as limited to the fight against ISIL. Incirlik is not a NATO base, it is not a USA base. Incirlik is a national base of Turkey. Russia is part of the international coalition against ISIL. Hence, Russian use of Incirlik would be consistent with the anti-ISIL international coalition. Furthermore, Turkey and Russia being on good terms with each other would be one less problem for NATO than were it otherwise.
Has there been any Ankara-Washington-Moscow coordination before Turkey's military presence in Jarablus?
I have no primary source of information to confirm whether Turkey coordinated with the different parties before undertaking the Cerablus operation. From the looks of it, Turkey even probably informed the Assad regime about it. This is as it should be. The had-to-do reactions that were relatively weak from Moscow and Damascus of “concern” indicate that they knew about Turkey’s move. The purpose is to secure the Turkish border and clear the area of ISIL. The critical point about Turkey’s operation is when and how it ends. If it lasts too long and brings Turkish armed forces into confrontation with the Syrian Kurds, then the situation and consequences will be different.
Some European countries like Hungary and Czech Republic has asked for formation of European army. What is the necessity of this issue? Would Turkey play a role in it?
Eastern European countries have deep-seated fears and concerns regarding Russia. NATO has tried to allay those fears by taking new measures. However, I do not know exactly what is meant by a “European army.” It is not among the steps NATO is considering.
Does such a request mean that NATO has not been able to tackle some security concerns of Europe such as migrant crisis?
The migrant problem, while it has security ramifications, is not strictly speaking a NATO issue. NATO has a naval presence in the Aegean to stem the flow of illegal immigration. But the migrant problem is a pan-European, even a global problem. The solution must be sought in the political and diplomatic arena. So far, especially the European Union has failed in meeting this challenge. The EU has not even implemented the agreement reached with Turkey some months ago. Ultimately the EU countries do not want to host millions of refugees from outside its borders. This is contrary to the humanitarian values the Europeans supposedly defend and espouse.
Interview by: Payman Yazdanai