The Telegraph reports that Erdoǧans post-coup purge may force NATO to suspend Turkish membership:

This prompted John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, to warn that Turkey faced suspension from Nato if it persisted with its ruthless purge. Membership of Nato requires countries to uphold certain democratic principles, and Mr Kerry said the US “will measure very carefully what is happening” in Turkey. “The level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead.”

Between 1967 and 1974, Greece was ruled by a military junta. However, it remained a member of NATO:

Countries such as the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany on the other hand were voicing criticism about Greece's human rights record but supported the country's continued membership in the Council of Europe and NATO because of the country's strategic value for the western alliance.

Have NATO rules changed in the Greek military junta, or are they simply being selectively applied?

  • 3
    In post-war Greece, NATO actually supported the fachists in order to prevent the country to go the USSR-satellite route.
    – Bregalad
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 18:37
  • 7
    Portugal was a founding member of NATO and a dictatorship until 1974.
    – user7361
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 19:55

3 Answers 3


That post nicely summarizes the requirements as of now: http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1099020.html

Also notice official Membership Action Plan or MAP which highlights the requirements: http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_27444.htm

Notice the below:

2.b: to demonstrate commitment to the rule of law and human rights;

2.d: to establish appropriate democratic and civilian control of their armed forces;

So in general, it doesn't require democracy as is since formulations are extremely vague. But for sure in order to join NATO one must have working law system and have some control over armed forces in place. On the other hand the way this control or 'commitment to the rule of law' should be performed is a thing which can be discussed and is decided by current NATO members. So technically, as with any 'democratic' institution, anyone could join if rest of the institution is happy.

Also keep in mind that joining some institution is much simpler than to leave it, especially for the institution itself. Like with the EU - for them it was much easier to give some special benefits to GB than to totally loose it from union. Same with NATO - for them it is easier to ignore couple of treaty violations than to withstand loss of one of the members on which defense structure is based.

Thus I don't think (for the sake of conversation) Turkey will be removed from NATO even if they start to perform full-scale Kurd genocide. At least not instantly. Though too many violations will make rest of the NATO members mad and membership could be suspended.

Thus, the rules are not like 'selectively applied'. The rules themselves are vague and can be interpreted one way or another.

  • 1
    Your first link states The first chapter -- political and economic issues -- requires candidates to have stable democratic systems, which goes against the nature of your post. That said, there are workarounds. When Spanish was under dictatorship, Spain did not join NATO, but the USA nonetheless setup five military bases in its territory (since it was a "private" USA-Spain agreement it was not against NATO rules, but served the same as if the NATO was operating from Spanish territory).
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 15:10
  • @SJuan76 well, first link is a post by mass-media site and I don't see smth like that in the official document in the second link, so not sure if such requirement is really in place. But even with that they didn't provide definition of what to treat as 'stable democratic system' so it can't be readily verified if candidate passes this point or not, only by decision of the rest of the NATO members. And yes, there are workarounds of course. Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 15:22
  • @SJuan76 though almost always such workarounds are implemented by US which makes NATO itself extremely vulnerable in case US ceases its operations within NATO. Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 15:23
  • in case US ceases its operations within NATO Why would the USA stop using the NATO. On a practical level it commands it, it is not that the NATO will enter in any conflict unless the USA allows/is interested in that. Unless it is some crazy adventure where European governments cannot follow the USA, using the NATO means getting a more "international" legitimacy and requires less of USA military and funds.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 15:24
  • 1
    Is that... correct use "loose" instead "lose"? In an internet forum? What's going on here?
    – hyde
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 20:05

Technically no. According to NATO's founding document, the Washington Treaty:

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

The treaty is generally ambiguous, however, given the above:

"founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and rule of law"

Article 1 begins to clarify this:

and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

Article 10 further elaborates on why one might join, and the standards expected of members:

The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.

One could quite easily argue that Turkey is violating rather than furthering the principles of the treaty. The treaty permits members to leave, but does not discuss expulsion. What is clear in articles 10 and 11 is that the USA is the gatekeeper, and new members are accepted only at its behest. Presumably America also has the power to expel members since it is an American club.

Greece is a good counter-example, but it was an exception rather than a norm. When it joined in 1952 it was a constitutional monarchy, and when the junta came to power in 1967 it was also the height of the cold war... and so somewhat of a bad time to start kicking out NATO members.

Since the fall of the USSR fledgling democracies in Eastern Europe have opted to join for protection, and generally the whole bloc has become more democratic and free over time. Turkey's military juntas historically also claimed they were doing what they were doing to enforce secularism, democracy, and stability; which generally they did. But now it's different.

  • 3
    Articles 10 and 11 establish the USA as the depositary, not the gatekeeper. Similarly, France is the depositary for the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Chemical and Biological Weapons, but not its gatekeeper. Switzerland is a depositary for dozens of treaties. Depositaries fulfill an administrative function.
    – MSalters
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 14:27

No, NATO has had several members which were dictatorships including Greece and Portugal. Additionally, Turkey's commitment to the rule of law has always been shaky. Most current members, especially in the EU, do not support the idea of being allied with dictators though - e.g. the recent move by the EU members of NATO to move the latest NATO meeting to Brussels from Turkey.

  • 1
    This answer is not very helpful. Please address the specific points in the question, and best, include sources.
    – jjdb
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 13:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .