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‘We are in danger because of NATO membership’: Turkish Patriotic party is sounding the alarm

The chairman of Türkiye’s Vatan Party speaks about the influence of the US, Palestine, and Israel, and the future of NATO

When I told some of my colleagues and experts on Türkiye that I was going to Istanbul to visit the chairman of Türkiye’s Patriotic Party (Vatan Partisi), Dogu Perincek, the reactions were mixed. They ranged from complete indifference and irritation to great admiration. Skeptics said that both the party and its leader are “lame ducks” and have no future. However, Perincek himself disagrees with this opinion.

“Just wait a few years and we’ll make it into the parliament, you’ll see,” says the 81-year-old politician. Perincek believes that with each year, the Turkish people are moving further away from Western values and the politicians that represent them. This is largely due to the position of the US, which regularly demonstrates unfriendly and even aggressive behavior in the region, and in regard to Türkiye as well. 

“Ordinary people see it, and our armed forces see it,” Perincek says. “Türkiye is America’s main target,” he says as he shows me a map of the country on which US military bases all around Türkiye are marked with US flags. A similar map of Iran was recently shared on the internet. 

“In this sense, for Tehran it is much easier than for us,” he says.

“Because there’s no US embassy there?” I ask.

Perincek laughs.

“Iran is not a NATO member, that’s why we are in greater danger,” he says. 

Chairman of Vatan Partisi Dogu Perincek and RT correspondent Abbas Juma


©  Abbas Juma

Three stages of separation 

According to Perincek, the contradictions between Ankara and Washington are mainly strategic, and cannot be solved in one day.

Dogu Perincek: I would divide the history of Turkish-US relations into three periods. The first lasted from 1945-1980, the second from 1980-2014, and the third started after 2014.

In the first period, the US tried to undermine Türkiye’s revolutionary achievements, but largely failed in this. After 1980, its main task was to integrate the Turkish economy into the global economy. Of course, integration with the global economy supposed the elimination of the country’s national economy, culture, and politics. [The West] even considered implementing this scenario by force. At the time, our party was the main political force that fought against this. At that time it was called the workers’ and peasants’ party. About 2,500 party members were thrown into prison where they were tortured. Moreover, the US attempted to create the “Kurdistan” project on Turkish territory. (Perincek calls it the “second Israel project”). We strongly protested against it and resisted it in any way we could. In 2014, we were finally able to free the officers and generals who were imprisoned in 2007.

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Then, the long-awaited third period started, when Türkiye gradually began to distance itself from the US. This period was marked by the fight against terrorism and separatism. In response, in the summer of 2016, US agents prepared and attempted to carry out an armed coup. However, they failed. After that, the purges began. 140,000 traitors were dismissed from their posts or imprisoned. This resulted in a certain paradox: NATO [agents] were collectively punished, but Türkiye still remains a part of NATO.

RT: You said that the US has largely failed. But it continues to exert economic pressure on Türkiye. For example, it wants to prevent Türkiye from cooperating with Russia…

Dogu Perincek: That’s true. But its policy of pressuring [Türkiye] is about to reach a dead end. Türkiye is gradually moving closer to China, Russia, and Iran. However, this is a complex and slow process. On the one hand, the Erdogan administration does not want to completely break away from the Atlantic World, and on the other hand, it wants to get closer to Asian countries. [Turkish President] Recep Erdogan wants to be friends with Putin, but he also wants to have a good relationship with [US President Joe] Biden.

The US continues to exert pressure [on our country]. Türkiye has a large national debt and is import-dependent. The pressure is not only economic, [US] weapons are also directed against us (Perincek again points to the map). They are doing everything they can to force Türkiye to leave NATO sooner or later. 

Dogu Perincek study a map of US military bases in Türkiye


©  Abbas Juma

RT: But there is no legal mechanism for withdrawing from the alliance…

Dogu Perincek: Our people have already withdrawn from it. If you were to hold a referendum today, 80% of the Turkish population would vote in favor of leaving the North Atlantic alliance.

Atlanticists vs patriots

RT: However, when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Türkiye is on the side of NATO. For example, we’ve recently heard about the construction of a factory for the production of Bayraktar drones near Kiev.

Dogu Perincek: The division between the Atlanticists and patriots occurs in Türkiye at all levels. It also exists within the ruling party. The accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO and Türkiye’s policy in regard to Ukraine demonstrate that Atlanticism in Türkiye is still extremely strong.

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RT: And what about the Turkish president – whose side is he on? Returning to the issue of producing Turkish UAVs in Ukraine, we may note that this campaign is headed by Erdogan’s son-in-law. 

Dogu Perincek: Erdogan’s son-in-law Selcuk Bayraktar represents Atlantic interests. The Atlanticists want him to replace his father-in-law as the leader of the ruling party and of the country. 

However, we cannot say that Erdogan himself fully supports the Atlanticists, because he understands very well that the Americans aren’t pleased with him. No matter how hard [Erdogan] tries to get closer to Washington, they will not accept him there. In this regard, the cancellation of the Turkish leader’s official visit to the US in May is quite telling. 

The Palestinian issue and Iran are weakening Western influence in Türkiye

RT: How did Türkiye and especially the Turkish elites react to the situation in Palestine and Iran’s attack on Israel?

Dogu Perincek: In the beginning [of the conflict], Erdogan did not want to make a specific decision regarding Palestine. But the desperate struggle of the Palestinian people forced him to take their side.

The October 7 Hamas attack [on Israel] and Iran’s strike dealt a serious blow to the Atlanticists in Türkiye. A few days ago, I attended a meeting at the Iranian Embassy concerning the Iranian armed forces. Turkish generals were present at this meeting. This is noteworthy, because high-ranking Turkish military officials did not attend such events in the past. 

Of course, the West is trying to fight Iran’s influence in the region and in Türkiye. In particular, it makes use of religious radicals to fuel the Shiite-Sunni conflict, but without much success. 

Conclusion 

In the course of our conversation, Perincek recalled his trip to Moscow in 1996. On this official visit, he met with several high-ranking Russian officials. According to Perincek, at the time he saw that “the great Russian spirit was suppressed.” But time passed and Russia got back on its feet.

“Once, under [former Russian President Boris] Yeltsin, you also followed a self-destructive course. But then the Russian people decided to focus on strengthening [Russia’s] sovereignty instead of integrating with the West. And that saved you,” Perincek said. 

In the case of Türkiye, Perincek is sure that things will happen much faster since the process was launched ten years ago, and it won’t be long before the country comes out of the crisis – and then, perhaps even withdraws from NATO. 

 

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