LONDON: Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan said before a coalition summit in London on Tuesday that Turkey would oppose the NATO plan to defend the Baltic states unless the coalition supports the recognition of Kurdish militias as a terrorist organization. Will resist NATO.
Threat emphasizes growing challenges for groups praised by supporters, the most successful military alliance ever, whose leaders, including US President Donald Trump, have gathered in London to celebrate the 70th anniversary.
Turkey’s contempt will only increase the doubt about NATO’s political future, French President Emmanuel Macron has described NATO as “brain dead,” and Trump’s interrogation of the entire premise of his superpower to defend the West has also undermined The political future of NATO.
Erdogan had strained allies with the purchase of Russian air defense systems, but he threatened to block defense plans in the Baltic Sea and Poland again, unless NATO stepped up its support for fighting YPG militias in Kurdish northeastern Syria.
“With pleasure, we can come together and discuss these issues there as well,” Erdogan said of the Baltics plan ahead of his departure from Ankara for the NATO summit.
“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.”
Erdogan added that he had spoken to Polish President Andrei Duda by telephone and agreed to meet him and the leaders of the Baltic states in London. Turkey, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are also expected to hold separate meetings before and after the summit.
In an interview with Reuters, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned Ankara that “not everyone sees the threats they see,” and urged Ankara to stop blocking the Baltic plan in the name of coalition unification.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated that the core element of the NATO treaty is a common defense clause, in which he insists on responding to attacks on Poland or the Baltic states.
“Through the presence of NATO forces in Poland and in the Baltic countries, we are sending Russia a very strong signal: if there is an attack on Poland or the Baltic countries, the whole alliance will respond,” Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, said in interviews with several European newspapers.
“WAVING OR DROWNING?”
Queen Elizabeth will receive leaders at Buckingham Palace. But even the host country of Great Britain, the most enthusiastic supporters of the intergenerational transatlantic partnership represented by NATO, have been discouraged by their plans to withdraw from the European Union and be distracted by the vicious elections to be held next week.
“The question is, as we celebrate 70 years, are we waving in celebration or do people think we are drowning?” said a senior European NATO diplomat.
Stoltenberg believes that although the fight has made headlines, the alliance is in good condition and has strengthened its capacity to fulfill its core mission of defending Europe after Russia added Crimea to Ukraine in 2014.
“We are faced with a paradox,” Stoltenberg told Reuters before the summit. “Yes we have some differences, but the reality is that we are doing more together than for many years.”
Europe, Turkey and Canada will promise $ 400 billion in defense spending by 2024 to appease Trump, and have long said that American allies must spend more on collective defense.
The leaders will also agree to the new budget 2021-2024, which will reduce US contributions to self-financing the alliance. They will adopt a new strategy to follow China’s growing military activities for the first time and the namespace, along with air, land, sea and computer networks, the war zone.
French Macron publicly doubted the central goal of NATO last month, namely that an attack on one member was an attack on everyone, and French Macron sent a shiver into the alliance.
He was frustrated by the US decision to withdraw from Syria in October and to lay the foundation for Turkey’s unilateral offensive against the YPG militia, whereby Macron described the alliance as “experiencing brain death” because he condemned lack of strategy.
A Franco-German proposal would create a group of eminent figures to consider the alliance’s future political role, submitting a report by the next scheduled summit in late 2021.
Wariness of Russia may prove to be a unifying factor, diplomats said. Leaders will issue a statement condemning Moscow’s Crimea annexation and its military build-up, recommitting to the alliance’s collective defense pledge.