Defense Minister Akar warns against alliances that harm NATO

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the formation of alliances outside of NATO would harm the organization, according to comments released on Saturday, after Greece and France agreed on a defense pact last month.

“We had a positive and constructive meeting with the Greek defense minister (Nikos Panagiotopoulos),” Hulusi Akar told reporters late Friday. “We expect to see the positive results of this meeting in the coming days.”

On Greece’s ratification of the defense pact with France earlier this month, Akar said that since all three countries are members of NATO, such alliances threaten to “harm both NATO and bilateral relations and undermine trust.”

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“Given that we are inside NATO, everyone should know that the search for various alliances outside of it will both cause harm to NATO and our bilateral relations, and shake confidence,” Akar told reporters after NATO defense ministers met in Brussels this week.

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On Turkey’s project to upgrade its F-16 jet fleet, Akar said that technical work has been started for both the supply of Block 70 Viper F-16s from the U.S. and the modernization of some jets it already owns.

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“The strengthening of Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces also means the strengthening of NATO defense,” he argued.

Akar and Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters