ANKARA: NATO allies should support Turkey in its conflict with Syrian Kurdish fighters after Ankara dropped its objections to the alliance’s defense plans for Poland and the Baltics, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Ahead of Wednesday’s summit, Turkey had angered other NATO members by saying it would block the defense plan until they designated the Kurdish YPG militia, against which Ankara waged a military offensive two months ago, a terrorist organization.
Speaking to reporters in London, Erdogan said that Turkey dropped its objection to the Baltics plan after NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and the leaders of Germany, France and Poland asked for Turkey’s backing.
“They all called us and asked us for support on this. After talks with my colleagues, we said yes to this, but you must not abandon us in the fight against terror,” broadcaster NTV quoted Erdogan as saying.
Stoltenberg told reporters after the summit that allies had not discussed how to designate the YPG during their talks.
Ties between Turkey and its NATO allies have soured over a host of issues, ranging from Ankara’s decision to procure Russian air defense systems to Syria policy. Ankara accuses its allies of not providing enough support against the threats it is facing and in hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees.
Turkey says it aims to establish a “safe zone” in part of northeast Syria after clearing the region of the YPG, and says that Syrian refugees can be settled there.
Erdogan has also urged allies to provide funds for its plans, which he discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the summit.
Erdogan said that only one country, which he did not name, has so far pledged support for Turkey’s Syria plans. He said the four leaders had agreed to meet again in Istanbul in February and to hold talks annually.