Erdoğan urges 'solidarity without political conditions' from Western allies

(Updates with Erdoğan's meetings in paragraph 11)

NATO and the European Union should provide concrete support for Turkey’s defence and fight against terrorism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.

“Turkey’s border with Syria constitutes NATO’s southeastern border,” Erdoğan said following the meeting with Stoltenberg in Brussels, calling for full implementation of measures to support Turkey’s defence by NATO.

Turkey’s allies should show solidarity “without putting forth political conditions,” he said.

“The security and humanitarian crisis in Syria affects all of Europe, and as such, no European country “has the luxury to remain indifferent to the clashes and the humanitarian tragedy in Syria,” the president said.

Following the Feb. 27 airstrike in Idlib that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers, Turkey invoked Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty for a meeting to discuss the threat to its security, and the country has been discussing Article 5, which calls for collective defence against threats to a NATO member.

NATO would continue to support Turkey, “the ally most affected by the turmoil and violence in Syria,” Stoltenberg said, with a range of measures including defensive missile systems against threats to Turkey from Syria.

“We also support Turkey with air and naval presence,” Stoltenberg said, stressing NATO investments to Turkey, which include “more than five billion dollars in military facilities and infrastructure such as naval bases and radar sites.”

NATO recognises Turkey’s heavy burden, Stoltenberg said, “but Turkey must play its part in finding a longer term solution to this crisis.”

Calling for dialogue with the EU regarding the renewed refugee crisis at the Greek-Turkish border, Stoltenberg said NATO is prepared to continue to support Turkey.

“We are currently deployed in the Aegean Sea to help tackle the refugee and migrant crisis,” Stoltenberg said. “We are exploring what more we may be able to do.”

Erdoğan was scheduled to meet with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen following the joint press conference, and has reportedly already left Brussels without further statements together with either EU leader.