Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar accused NATO of abandoning the country to fight terrorism by itself, after the alliance declined to label Kurdish fighters in northern Syria terrorists.
Ahead of a NATO summit in London earlier this week, the Turkish government suggested that it would block a defense plan for the Baltic states unless the alliance designates the Kurdish YPG militia a terrorist group. Ankara has been engaged in a low-intensity conflict with the YPG for decades, and launched a military offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria in September.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eventually relented, dropping his objection and backing the Baltic plan, but urging NATO to “not abandon us in the fight against terror.” The alliance did not, however, resolve the YPG issue with Erdogan.
“In the end, there was no agreement reached,” Akar said on Friday, as reported by Turkish TV channel NTV.
We were left alone in the fight against terror
On Friday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that his government will block the plan’s publication until Turkey’s plan – which includes the terrorism designation – is published too.
Akar too pointed out that despite the disagreement on the Kurds, relations between Ankara and the alliance’s Western members were still cordial. “It is illogical for some circles to try to portray steps we are taking for our national security as a disregard of NATO,” he said on Friday.
However, these relations have been strained as of late. Erdogan’s decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 air defense system triggered a wave of condemnation from NATO allies, and saw the country booted from the F-35 fighter jet program. Despite talks between Erdogan and US President Donald Trump, the impasse has not been resolved, and Ankara has stuck by its decision to field the Russian missile system.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that there was no politics behind the purchase, rather the NATO allies (like the US and France) did not provide comparable weapons to Ankara.
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