ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey’s prime minister expressed strong opposition Friday to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s candidacy to be next NATO chief.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not say whether Turkey would veto the candidacy, which Fogh Rasmussen confirmed after weeks of speculation.
Erdogan said Fogh Rasmussen’s unwillingness to stop broadcasts by a Kurdish satellite television in Denmark, and his stance during the 2006 crisis over a Danish newspaper’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, cast doubts over his ability to lead the alliance.
“On this issue, we don’t want NATO to be weakened,” Erdogan told reporters at the Chatham House think tank in London. His comments were broadcast live in Turkey. “NATO is an organization whose duties are to ensure peace,” he said. “But the mouthpiece of the terror organization in my country is broadcasting from Denmark.”
“How can someone who did not stop this safeguard the peace?” Erdogan said. Turkey accuses Roj TV of being a propaganda machine for Kurdish rebels.
The Danish prime minister had infuriated Muslims by speaking out in favor of freedom of speech during the uproar over the cartoons.
“How can those who made no contribution to peace at that time, contribute to peace now?” he said. “These are raising question marks.”
“This is my personal opinion: I look at (his candidacy) negatively,” Erdogan said.
NATO leaders were expected to discuss choosing a new secretary-general at a two-day summit in France and Germany starting Friday.
Erdogan said in an interview last week that there is strong opposition from Muslim nations to Fogh Rasmussen leading the alliance.