Turkey to oppose NATO plan if it fails to recognize terrorism threats: Erdogan

Several NATO members condemned Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Turkey to oppose NATO plan if it fails to recognize terrorism threats: Erdogan

  • Relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues
  • Several NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria

ISTANBUL: Turkey will oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if the alliance does not recognize groups that Turkey deems terrorists, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, ahead of a NATO alliance summit in London.
Relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues, ranging from Ankara’s decision to procure Russian air defense systems to Syria policy. Several NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia.
Ankara has refused to back a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland until it receives more support for its battle with the YPG, which it views as a terrorist organization.
Ahead of his departure from Ankara for the NATO summit, Erdogan said he had spoken to Polish President Andrzej Duda on the phone on Monday and had agreed to meet with him and leaders of Baltic countries in London to discuss the issue.

“With pleasure, we can come together and discuss these issues there as well,” he said. “But if our friends at NATO do not recognize as terrorist organizations those we consider terrorist organizations ... we will stand against any step that will be taken there.”
A Turkish security source said on Monday that Turkey is not “blackmailing” NATO with its rejection of the plans and that it has full veto rights within the alliance.
Turkey, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are expected to hold a separate meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Erdogan said they would mainly discuss Turkish plans to establish a safe zone in northeast Syria, which has until now been met with criticism from Ankara’s European allies.
Separately, Turkey has been at odds with Greece and Cyprus over ownership of offshore natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan said he will also meet with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in London.


Turkey hints it could bar US from using key air bases

Updated 35 min 36 sec ago

Turkey hints it could bar US from using key air bases

  • ‘In the event of a decision to sanction Turkey, the Incirlik and Kurecik air bases can be brought to the agenda’
  • Incirlik air base in southern Turkey has been a main base for US operations in the Middle East

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey’s foreign minister suggested Wednesday that the United States could be barred from using two strategic air bases in retaliation to possible US sanctions against his country, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Mevlut Cavusoglu comments came amid reports that US lawmakers had agreed on a defense bill that also includes calls to sanction Turkey over its decision to proceed with the purchase and deployment of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.
“In the event of a decision to sanction Turkey, the Incirlik and Kurecik air bases can be brought to the agenda,” Anadolu quoted Cavusoglu as saying.
He said: “Congress members must understand that it is not possible to get anywhere with sanctions.”
Incirlik air base in southern Turkey has been a main base for US operations in the Middle East and more recently in the fight against the Daesh group in Syria and Iraq, while Kurecik, in eastern Turkey, is a key NATO base.
Turkey’s decision to proceed with the purchase of the Russian system has added to growing tensions between the two NATO allies. Washington says the Russian system poses a threat to NATO and has removed Turkey from the US-led F-35 stealth fighter jet program.
Tensions were raised further after Turkey launched an incursion into northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish forces that had partnered with the US in the fight against the Daesh group. Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.