TURKEY’S NATO STANCE ON KURDS DRAWS FRIENDLY FIRE
▶ Allies fear Ankara’s Russian missile defence system and veto on Baltic states is undermining alliance
Turkey’s position in Nato came under fire at a London meeting to mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary yesterday as US President Donald Trump said Ankara would forfeit billions in cancelled weapons purchases after installing a Russian air defence system.
Mr Trump spoke out on Turkey as he met international leaders and those from Nato in the British capital.
Anger over Ankara buying the S-400 missile defence system from Russia has been compounded by a Turkish veto on defence planning in the Baltic states as it seeks to have the Kurdish YPG designated as terrorists.
Officials having been trying to resolve the impasse.
“I will not promise that but what I can say is that we are working on that,” Mr Trump said. “But it is not like Nato doesn’t have a plan to defend the Baltic countries.”
After meeting Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the US president said Ankara had lost “billions” over forward purchases of the F-35 fighter jet.
Its order was cancelled after Turkey installed the Russian-made defence system, which is incompatible with the Nato air control.
Mr Stoltenberg said the alliance was formally split over the YPG designation but officials hoped for a communique today at the end of the talks.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, said he would block defence proposals for Poland and the Baltic nations until the alliance supported Ankara’s concerns about the Syrian Kurdish fighters, who were western allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria.
Gulnur Aybet, an adviser to Mr Erdogan, told a Nato gathering that her government had a right to defend its position within the alliance.
“On the Baltics and Poland, this is an internal Nato matter,” Ms Aybet said. “I don’t think it should be leaked to the press. This is not at the approval stage.
“Some documents of similar sort for Turkey had framed the YPG as a terrorist group but then one member objected to that and they have blocked.
“These are Turkey’s defence plans stopped, too. You cannot have one debate and address the security plans of one ally and not address another.”
The presence of a Russia defence system inside a Nato country has also not been resolved.
The US and other allies say the system is not compatible with Nato forces, and could compromise the F-35 fighter jet programme and assist Russian intelligence on alliance defences.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Nato must demand clarification from Turkey about its commitment to the alliance.
Mr Macron, whose relationship with Mr Erdogan has become increasingly tense, said it was not possible for Turkey to be a member of the Nato while using the system.
“How is it possible to be a member of the alliance, to work with, to be integrated, and buy things from Russia?” he asked.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Downing Street before the summit yesterday, during which he was sharply criticised