Turkey not ‘blackmailing’ NATO over Baltics defense plan: report

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AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST

Turkey is not blackmailing NATO with its rejection of a defense plan for the Baltics and Poland and has full veto rights within the alliance, a Turkish security source said on Monday ahead of a NATO alliance summit in London.

According to Reuters, Turkey was refusing to back a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland until it received more support for its battle with the Syrian Kurdish militia, which it views as a terrorist organization.

Ankara has said the impasse was caused by the United States withdrawing support from a separate defense plan for Turkey, covering any possible attack from the south where it borders Syria, and that it wanted the issue resolved.

“NATO is an institution where Turkey has full veto rights, politically and militarily, and there are procedures here,” the source said. “There is no such thing as Turkey blackmailing — a statement like that is unacceptable.”

A diplomatic source told Reuters last week that Turkey was “taking Eastern Europeans hostage” by blocking approval of the military planning, and a second source call Ankara’s behavior “disruptive.”

NATO envoys need formal approval by all 29 members for the plan to improve the defense of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia against any threat from neighboring Russia.

A Turkish diplomatic source later said Turkey was “open to offers” and that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was trying to find common ground between the allies.

However, relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues ranging from Ankara’s decision to procure a Russian air defense system to its Syria policy. Several NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision last month to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

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