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NATO Reaffirms Support of Turkish President Erdogan


FILE - Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan arrives for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland July 9, 2016.

FILE - Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan arrives for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland July 9, 2016.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has reaffirmed its committment to Turkey as a valued member of the 28 nation alliance in attempt to allay Turkey's concerns that it does not have the full support of the West.

"Turkey is a valued ally, making substantial contributions to NATO's joint efforts. Turkey takes full part in the alliance's consensus-based decisions as we confront the biggest security challenges in a generation," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said Wednesday in a statement.

Lungescu issued the statement in response to "speculative press reports" about last month's aborted coup in Turkey and Turkey's NATO membership. "NATO counts on the continued contributions of Turkey and Turkey can count on the solidarity and support of NATO," she said.

NATO released the statement one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The meeting fueled speculation that Turkey's strong relationship with the West could be weakening.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin

Turkey, the second largest military power in NATO, is an important ally with the West as it confronts unprecendented levels of instability in the Middle East.

Erdogan has been extremely critical of the U.S. and the European Union (EU) for not being more supportive of Turkey after the failed coup attempt. He has also brushed aside warnings from the West to exercise restraint and to respect human and democratic rights as he executes a broad crackdown that has netted thousands of people.

FILE - Six U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrive at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to take part in anti-Islamic State missions, Aug. 9, 2015.

FILE - Six U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base, Italy, arrive at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to take part in anti-Islamic State missions, Aug. 9, 2015.

But Lungescu reassured Erdogan NATO has not wavered in its support of Turkey.

"The NATO secretary-general spoke to the Turkish Foreign Minister on the night of the attempted coup and later with President Erdogan, strongly condemning the attempted coup and reiterating full support for Turkey’s democratic institutions. He expressed support for the elected government of Turkey and respect for the courage of the Turkish people," said Lungescu.

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