Erdoğan tells NATO “We will defend our borders”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg that it would defend its borders, the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak reported on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg responded that this was Turkey’s “most natural right”, according to the newspaper.

Erdoğan telephoned Stoltenberg to discuss the escalating situation around Afrin, the majority-Kurdish city in northern Syria that Turkey is preparing to assault, a source from the Turkish Presidency told Yeni Şafak.

As preparations were being made for the operation, Erdoğan aimed threatening words at the USA, which had planned to create a 30,000-strong border force with the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, a group Turkey considers linked to armed Kurdish groups that it designates as terrorists.

Yeni Şafak reports that Staltenberg said NATO “was not consulted” on the creation of this force.

Another NATO official also promised that the organisation would “continue contributing to Turkey’s security”, the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on Tuesday.

The official, who was not named in the news report, added that NATO’s development of early-warning radar systems in Turkey, and its increased fleet presence in the Aegean Sea, demonstrated the “strong ties” linking NATO to Turkey’s defence.