Turkey is refusing to back a NATO defence plan for the Baltic states and Poland until the alliance supports Turkey against Kurds in northern Syria, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
According to four high level sources, Ankara is demanding NATO to designate the Kurdish YPG military force in northern Syria as a terrorist organisation.
The People’s Protection Units (YPG) make up the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces operating in northern Syria. Turkey launched its invasion into the Kurdish-dominated region in early October.
NATO is currently seeking an approval from the 29 member states for plans to defend Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in case of Russian aggression.
Without Turkey’s support, it would be difficult for NATO to rapidly increase the defences in the Baltic states and Poland, according to Reuters.
“They [the Turks] are taking eastern Europeans hostage, blocking approval of this military planning until they get concessions,” a diplomatic source told Reuters.
NATO endorsed the first defence plans for the Baltic states and Poland in 2010 and they were updated after Crimea's annexation, but discussions on the plan's details are still ongoing.
Lithuanian foreign minister hopes Turkey will back down
Meanwhile, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said “the process is ongoing” and hopes the necessary decisions will be made until the upcoming NATO summit next week.
"There's no final decision yet [...] it would be wrong to state that there are final disagreements or blockings,” Linkevičius told BNS on Tuesday night.
Linkevičius refused to comment in detail on military planning and Turkey's position, but acknowledged that Ankara wants the formal NATO documents to reflect Turkey’s attitude towards the Kurdish organisations.
"I wouldn’t like to go into detail as a lot of documents are being coordinated. Yes, there are various interpretations and interests,” said Linkevičius.
“It's very important for Turkey to have its relation with certain Kurdish groups reflected in the documents, and that is a long process and we are speaking about it not only in [the] case [surrounding NATO defence plans]," he added.
NATO leaders will gather for a summit in London on December 3-4.