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

The National - News - - NEWS - DAMIEN McELROY Lon­don

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.

Reuters

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan in Down­ing Street be­fore the sum­mit yes­ter­day, dur­ing which he was sharply crit­i­cised

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