Tom Brake calls for Turkey to be suspended from NATO

As the human rights situation in Turkey worsens, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has called for Turkey to be suspended from NATO and for the refugee deal between Turkey and the EU to be scrapped.

He said:

Erdogan’s ongoing purge of newspapers, academics, teachers and judges has nothing to do with Turkey’s security and everything to do with blocking any opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule. Today’s news that dozens more media outlets have been shut should send shivers down the spine of any person who believes in a free and open society.

The preamble to NATO’s founding treaty refers to it being “founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”, all of which are under threat in Turkey currently.

If the UK and our NATO allies want to protect these core principles, it is time to make it clear to Erdogan that his actions will have lasting international consequences, and I am calling on NATO to urgently consider suspension of Turkey’s membership.

I am also calling for the scrapping of the EU/Turkey refugee deal, as the previous flimsy justifications for the deportation of refugees to Turkey are rendered indefensible by current circumstances.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.


  • Tony Dawson 29th Jul '16 - 3:35pm

    Does this mean Russia can then invade and liberate Kurdistan?

  • Rightsaidfredfan 29th Jul '16 - 4:51pm

    I voted leave after reading that our liberals and elites wanted turkey in the EU. The actions the authoritarian wannabe sultan and the fact turkish people support his Islamism tells me I did the right thing. Secularism was enforced by the military establishment, the people of turkey never wanted it and have elected Islamic fundamentalists time and time again. Now the military has been purged turkey is well on the way to becoming just another Middle eastern hellhole. Turkey have now said sorry to Putin and arrested the pilot who shotdown the Russian jet, I imagine the pilot was falling orders but will be subjected to a show trial nevertheless to please Putin. The death penalty will be brought back for those accused of organising the coup and turkey have also now blame a NATO general for it. I don’t think turkey wants to be in NATO anymore.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Jul '16 - 4:58pm

    I’m pro suspending Turkey from Nato, but hasn’t the migrant deal stemmed the flow of migrants somewhat? We can’t go back to mass drownings in the sea. Of course, there are still some happening, but it doesn’t look as bad as it was.

  • Eddie’s right. The migrant deal with Turkey may not be great, but what existed before was truly, terribly worse. It shouldn’t be scrapped until we can offer something better.

    I’ve seen enough pictures of drowned children to last a lifetime.

  • The Lib Dems helped to worsen the crisis in Syria by supporting further bombing.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Jul '16 - 7:28pm

    Alistair, we need to make sure the Americans are operating on the same terms of engagement as us. There’s been too many civilian casualties recently.

    However ISIS are not a legitimate anti-Assad resistance group, so I still support precision strikes against their leaders.

  • My concern is that NATO does not really involve itself in internal affairs of its members, being primarily a defensive alliance. That alliance would surely be weakened by removing a country as important as Turkey (although the question of whether Turkey still has full control over its forces is open). Given Erdogan’s actions, a moratorium on EU negotiations, or possibly even EU sanctions, might be effective (and EU membership was always a very long way off at the best of times; it’s further now than for a very long time). I fear that suspending Turkey from NATO might just push Erdogan towards Russia – and given his authoritarianism, Erdogan might not even see a suspension as a bad thing.

  • @rightsaidfredfan – so Boris and Farage who told you Turkey was weeks away from EU membership have been proved wrong and you think that justifies your vote.

  • Peter Watson 29th Jul '16 - 9:11pm

    @Caracatus “so Boris and Farage who told you Turkey was weeks away from EU membership have been proved wrong and you think that justifies your vote.”
    So Cameron who told you he would “fight for” Turkey’s membership of the EU and Clegg who told you it was a “strategic necessity” have been proved wrong and you think that justifies your vote?

  • Stevan Rose 29th Jul '16 - 9:38pm

    “So Cameron who told you he would “fight for” Turkey’s membership of the EU and Clegg who told you it was a “strategic necessity” have been proved wrong and you think that justifies your vote?”

    They were talking out of their rear ends to curry favour with the Turks, in the full and certain knowledge that Greece and Cyprus would block it as would a mandatory French referendum. Pretty stupid and transparent tactic really which somewhat backfired. As to NATO that’s about our defensive interests. Turkey, Greece and Portugal have all been dictatorships and NATO members at the same time. We have military links with far worse regimes in the Middle East than Turkey. I don’t support trying to turn NATO into more than it is.

  • Turkey joining the EU was an aspiration. It never meant that Turkey should be allowed to join at any price, or that the criteria for EU Membership ought to be loosened for Turkey. They only way Turkey was EVER going to join the

  • @Rightsaidfredfan: Turkey joining the EU was an aspiration. It NEVER meant that Turkey should be allowed to join at any price, or that the criteria for EU Membership ought to be loosened for Turkey. They only way Turkey was EVER going to join the EU was by fulfilling the criteria for EU membership that any prospective member has to fulfill. Realistically, this had little chance of happening even before recent events. You were completely mistaken if you believed that Turkey was about to join the EU, or that the EU elite wanted Turkey in its present condition to join the EU immediately. No-one, ABSOLUTELY NO-ONE, supported such a thing.

  • rightsaidfredfan Turkey joining the EU required Turkey to recognise all existing EU Member States including Cyprus and all existing EU Member States. Including Cyprus to vote for Turkey’s EU membership. What planet were you on when you missed those fundamental requirements – Planet Boris, I presume?

  • Peter Watson 30th Jul '16 - 1:14am

    @Stevan Rose “Pretty stupid and transparent tactic really which somewhat backfired.”
    Indeed. I was also struck by the way that Bremainers slated Turkey and in the same breath accused Brexiters of being xenophobic. The Remain campaign was awful, and by the end of it I voted remain despite that side’s ultimately successful attempts to throw away EU membership!

  • Rightsaidfredfan 30th Jul '16 - 2:09am


    I didn’t ever believe that turkey was weeks away from entry, more like 10 to 20 years away. But I also believed that if we had voted remain then that was it, we would be signed up to this thing with no way out, at least not any way out in my life time. I (perhaps wrongly) believed that based on the evidence I had at the time that if we voted remain the uk would have been in a political union with turkey in my life time, this was something I really really didn’t want.

    I now think that turkey will not be in the EU within my life time for what it’s worth; but based on the rhetoric then I didn’t know that at that time. I actually think the pro eu people killed it themselves by pushing things to far to fast. The possibility of a union with turkey was just to much for me. I didn’t know then that it would be unlikely to materialise in the next five decades.

    @steven Ross.
    Perhaps they were talking out their rear ends to curry favour with the Turks as you put it; but I didn’t know that at that time. I believed that they meant what they said and voted accordingly. I also believed that the articles here about wanting turkey in the EU were sincere and I’m still not convinced that they weren’t.

    I guess I partly voted for Brexit not just because of what the EU actually was but because of what I feared it would become.

  • Erdogans actions post the attempted coup are far, far from acceptable …. but i would suggest keeping dialogue open to strongly express the views that the purges that have taken place are completely unacceptable and rights need to be restored

  • Peter Watson 30th Jul '16 - 10:05am

    @Paul Walter “They would only join if they ever meet the 35 chapters by which stage they would be an acceptable state to join.”
    I am sure that both sides of the referendum debate would be delighted with that version of Turkey, regardless of EU membership.
    I think the Remain campaign was missing the point, perhaps deliberately, that Brexiters were raising. I don’t recall Brexiters criticising Turkey or its institutions per se (indeed, they may have emphasised its importance as a NATO ally). Turkey was simply named as a potential source of 10s of millions of migrants as part of the Exit campaign’s narrative on uncontrolled immigration. Whether that was in 2020 or 2030 was immaterial. Bremainers simply ignored the immigration aspect and responded with messages about Turkey that appeared hypocritical.

  • Richard Underhill 30th Jul '16 - 11:01am

    “So Cameron who told you he would “fight for” Turkey’s membership of the EU”
    Think about WHEN he said that. The situation has changed repeatedly.
    This thread drifted from Turkish membership of NATO to its relationship with the EU.
    When NATO was founded Portugal was under dictatorship. Spain was not acceptable, but the USA developed a bilateral relationship. Both have become democracies, but both were at risk of falling under communism, involving huge geo-political risks.
    Turkey has been a member of NATO despite periods of military rule.
    Should we also act against member states of the Commonwealth? or work for progress?
    What does Ming Campbell think?

  • @rightsaidfredfan – so the time to vote to leave the EU would be at the time that Turkey was accepted to become a full member, in 10-20 years by your reckoning, although the UK would have had a veto on Turkey becoming members, and it would have had to have met a the criteria, so the situation was unlikely to arise.

  • Bernard Aris 31st Jul '16 - 2:50pm

    The Dutch LibDems, D66, have also been critical om Turkish membership in- and Turkish (wished-for) privileges in Europe.
    The D66 party leader, Alexander Pechtokd MP (a former cabinet minister) published a big op-ed piece in NRC Handelsblad (liberal qualitiy newspaper since 1828; see: ) on July 28 in which he lambasted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his applauding VVD NatLib party for their complacency. Pointing to photographs of naked prisoners lying in a disorganized heap in an improvised post-coup Turkish prison (a barn by the looks of it) he writes: “those are images we remember from the darkest perriods in our history; they make me, a seasoned politician, lay awake at night”. He does two further things:
    a) He wants to separate the purely humanitarian part of the EU migrants deal with Turkey from all the totally inapropriate EU concessions to autocrat Erdogan (resumption of EU admissoion talks: cancel them! Visa-free travel for Turks in the EU? No Way! EU “democratizing” EU accession subsidies of hundreds of millions? scrap them forthwith!). Only the money and assistance for the housing and human rights (work, salaries, passports for newborn babies) should be maintained.
    b) The Rutte government should stop using our royals to cuddle up to dictators like Putin (a shamefull photo of our king having a Heineken with Putin at Sochi) and the Saudi’s (bombing Yemen indiscriminately; see the last Economist: ). The silence of the Rutte government about Turkey fits in that pattern; the whole pattern should be abandoned; Pechtold talks about a “faulty moral compass”.
    D66 and many opposition parties take special exception to calls from the Turkish embassies in Benelux and Germany to help “hunt for Gulen subversives”, and for Dutch Turks to denounce Gulenists via an Ankara internet website. That kind of interference in Dutch, European societies is totally unacceptable if you’re asking to join us.
    Dutch Christian democrats are also calling for Turkey to be condemned by the Council of Europe’s ECHR court, and by the Europarliament on its EU equivalent. This last should be a wake-up call for Timmermans, who cherished his human rights-record as ex-minister.

  • Bernard Aris 1st Aug '16 - 2:56pm


    typo with the name of the D66 party leader: it should read: “Pechtold”…

  • Richard Underhill 9th Oct '16 - 12:25pm

    We should not ignore religion among the human rights issues. It currently seems unlikely that Turkey would allow freedom of religion to a realistic standard.
    On the economy a Turkish Prime Minister (Ciller) fought a general election to take Turkey into a customs union with the EU, as a stepping stone to further integration and eventual full EU membership. Negotiating full membership of the EU without meeting the entry conditions seems very unlikely. It wold set a precedent for all other applications and aspirations for EU membership, of which there are several smaller countries.

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