ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey will block final publication of a NATO defence plan for the Baltics and Poland until allies agree to designate the Syrian Kurdish YPG a terrorist group, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
Two days after a NATO summit at which alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that Turkey had withdrawn its objection, allowing plans to move forward, Cavusoglu said Ankara agreed to the next step in the process but had not given final approval.
Ankara will block the plan until a defence proposal for Turkey – which Ankara says must include an endorsement of Turkey’s view of the YPG by the alliance – is approved as well, he told reporters on a visit to Rome.
“That plan will not be published until our plan is published too,” Cavusoglu said, describing Ankara’s move at the summit as a gesture to its allies. “It would not be fair for some countries to not approve our plan while at the same time backing a plan for others,” he said.
“Both plans are waiting at the same level … and if they are going to be published, it will be together. But, if there is a problem, then they will both be blocked. It is out of the question for there to be a compromise here.”
The YPG has formed the main fighting element of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Washington’s partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group and has been infuriated by Western support for the militia.
Stoltenberg told reporters after the summit that allies had not discussed how to designate the YPG. Later, Erdogan told reporters in London that NATO allies must not abandon Turkey in its fight against terror after it approved the plan upon the request of the French, German, Polish leaders and Stoltenberg.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans)