Turkey cannot backtrack on Poland-Baltics defence plan – senior Polish official

Turkey cannot go back on its commitment after agreeing to a NATO defence plan for the Baltics and Poland, Reuters quoted a senior Polish official as saying on Monday after Ankara said it may still block the plan until its allies designate a Kurdish militia as terrorists.

“There is no going back from the decision made at NATO (last week),” Krzysztof Szczerski, an aide to Poland’s president, told Reuters on Monday. “Decisions were made for both the Polish-Baltic and the Turkish plans and now we are waiting to implement the plans. That’s a military matter.”

Media reports said Turkey had blocked the revision to the alliance’s defence contingency plan before the NATO summit in London last week, and before flying to the summit Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would continue to hold it up unless his Western allies agreed to a separate defence plan that designates Turkey’s Syrian Kurdish foes as terrorists.

This presented a headache for NATO, since those same Kurdish militias had fought on the front lines in a campaign against Islamic State that was backed by the United States and other members of the alliance. But after the summit, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced that Turkey had withdrawn its objections without insisting on its own plan.

Then, on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey would continue to block the Poland-Baltics plan until NATO agreed to brand the Syrian Kurds as a terrorist group.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had only agreed to move to a new stage of discussions on the Poland-Baltics plan, while Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the plan was still under revision and would now move to the military committee to be re-evaluated, Reuters reported.