Gülnur Aybet Discusses Turkey’s Role in NATO

Some of President Macron’s sharpest criticisms today were aimed at President Erdogan, while Erdogan has called Macron “brain dead” for questioning his offensive into Syria, and is now blocking a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland unless Turkey receives support for its effort to defeat Syrian Kurd forces on its borders. Erdogan’s senior advisor joins Christiane to discuss the situation.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: There is trouble in paradise, in the NATO paradise, isn’t there? And your president is coming out for singular criticism from the French president. Can you first tell me what you think of all this insult slighting that seems to be going around? You know, brain dead, brain dead, I mean, really?

GULNUR AYBET, SENIOR ADVISER TO TURKISH PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, I mean, you know, Turkey and President Erdogan were not the questions who questioned Article 5. They weren’t the ones who called NATO brain dead. So, I think what my president was saying in response to Macron’s very unusual remarks was that, you know, to actually call an organization that’s defended you for 70 years dead, you really got to be out of your mind. I think that’s what he was saying.

AMANPOUR: Well, he did say that.


AMANPOUR: He said, I will also say this, first of all, have your own brain death checked, he said to Macron. You know how to show off but you cannot even properly pay for NATO. No one cares about you. You’re still a novice. Deal with that first. Yikes.

AYBET: Well, you know —

AMANPOUR: But when they come face to face in Buckingham Palace, how are they going to meet each other, greet each other?

AYBET: Well, leaders, you know, they have a way of talking around problems when they have to. Because at the end of the day, you know, there is a sense of responsibility. We’re all NATO allies. And, you know, Turkey has been an earth well NATO ally and lots of people are talking — there’s all this talk, Christiane, about Turkey not being a reliable ally and so forth. I keep hearing this. And I find it very upsetting because I know I’ve worked on NATO for like 30 years and I know this is not true because, you know, Turkey has continued all this time as the technocratic silent ally involved fully in the all the planning and all the operation, defending Europe. That is still going on in the background. But nobody talks about that. And then, you know, you mention this Kurdish group which are a terrorist group attacking us from Syria. And it’s a really fundamental existential national security concern for us. And NATO allies have really failed to understand that.

AMANPOUR: OK. I realized that —

AYBET: And I think that’s where we are. You know, we’re trying to make them understand this because allies have to be there for other allies when there’s a deep national security threat.

AMANPOUR: And I think this is where the point is, allies being there for allies.


AMANPOUR: And as you know, the West considers the YPG allies, critical allies. In fact, without the YPG, there was no hope against ISIS because certainly American boots were not on the ground nowhere were any other —

AYBET: Well, American boots were not on the ground. That’s true.

AMANPOUR: And nor was anybody else.

AYBET: But they were not the crucial fighting force against ISIS.

About This Episode EXPAND

Bobby Ghosh joins Christiane Amanpour to discuss this year’s NATO summit and analyze tensions between Presidents Trump and Macron, then Gülnur Aybet explains President Erdogan’s role in the situation. Shirin Neshat and Hadi Ghaemi unpack the significance of a new exhibition of female Iranian artists. Feras Fayyad tells Hari Sreenivasan about his new documentary “The Cave.”