Turkey, Politics, Europe

NATO plans on supporting Turkey’s efforts in Syria

NATO secretary-general presented 2019 report featuring public perception on military alliance for first time

Agnes Szucs   | 19.03.2020
NATO plans on supporting Turkey’s efforts in Syria

Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest

BRUSSELS

NATO allies are looking into what can be done to support Turkey’s efforts in the Syrian crisis, the bloc’s secretary-general said on Thursday.

Jens Stoltenberg was speaking at a virtual news conference in which he presented the 2019 Annual Report on the military alliance.

“No other NATO ally is more affected by the crisis in Syria than Turkey,” Stoltenberg pointed out, mentioning the military losses and the fact that Turkey hosts 4 million Syrian refugees.

NATO has increased its naval presence in the region, and Spain is also delivering capabilities to augment the Turkish air defense system, he added.

The secretary-general also condemned the “indiscriminate attacks” by the Russian-backed Assad regime in Syria and called on them to support the UN-led efforts to establish a political and negotiated solution to the crisis in Idlib region and all over Syria.

Stoltenberg described 2019 as “the year when we took big steps in further adapting NATO. It was also the year we marked our 70th anniversary”.

Defense spending across the alliance increased in real terms by 4.6% in 2019.

The secretary-general also spoke about the coronavirus outbreak in his speech, calling it a “global pandemic” against which NATO is implementing tough measures.

“The coronavirus outbreak has made clear that many of the challenges we face are too great for only one nation or organization to face alone. It is more important than ever that we stand together, work together and support each other,” he said.

For the first time, the annual report included a poll on public perception of the military alliance.

29,000 citizens across all 29 NATO allies and North Macedonia were involved in the survey, carried out by an independent research and strategy consultancy.

“This is most comprehensive polling about NATO we ever conducted,” Stoltenberg explained.

81% of the respondents believe that the collaboration between North America and Europe on safety and security is important.

60% believe that the country's membership in NATO makes them less likely to be attacked.

If a vote on NATO membership was organized today, in total 64% of people would vote to remain in NATO, and only 9% would vote against being part of the alliance, according to the findings of the survey.

“The main message is strong support for the idea of NATO,” the secretary-general concluded.

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