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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Turkey threatens to block NATO plan to defend Baltics: report

03.12.2019 15:00
Turkey will oppose a NATO plan to defend Baltic countries unless the alliance backs it in recognising a Kurdish militia as a terrorist group, the country’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday ahead of the alliance’s London summit, according to media reports.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU

Polish President Andrzej Duda, who spoke to Erdogan on Monday on the phone, told reporters on Tuesday in London that he hoped a “positive solution” could be found.

Erdogan agreed on Monday to meet with Duda and other leaders of Baltic countries at the high-profile NATO summit taking place in London from Tuesday to Wednesday. The gathering marks the alliance’s 70th anniversary.

"With pleasure, we can come together and discuss these issues there as well," Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

He added: "But if our friends at NATO do not recognise as terrorist organisations those we consider terrorist organisations ... we will stand against any step that will be taken there."

According to Reuters, several NATO members have condemned Turkey's decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization.

But the YPG has over the past years been one of the West’s main allies in fighting the ISIS terrorist group in Syria, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s news agency IAR reported.

Turkey’s warning it could block the NATO plan adds to doubts over the political future of the alliance, which was recently described by France’s Emmanuel Macron as experiencing “brain death,” the Reuters news agency reported.

However, in an interview published by Polish daily Rzeczpospolita on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed the mutual defence clause at the heart of the alliance.

"Through the presence of NATO forces in Poland and in the Baltic countries, we are sending Russia a very strong signal: if there is an attack on Poland or the Baltic countries, the whole alliance will respond," Stoltenberg said.

In September, Polish President Andrzej Duda and US leader Donald Trump signed a military agreement on locations for more American troops in Poland.

Under the document, Poland and the United States pledged to "continue to strengthen" their "strategic and defense relationship" to enhance mutual security and that of the NATO military alliance.

The United States pledged to deploy around 1,000 extra troops to Poland, a staunch military ally fearful of Russia, under a declaration signed by the Polish and US presidents at the White House in June.

In 2016, NATO announced it would deploy four multinational battalions to Poland and three Baltic countries, which fear potential Russian aggression following Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

(jh/pk)

Source: Reuters/Rzeczpospolita/IAR

See more on this subject: NATO