News

2020.06.30 17:45

NATO endorses Baltic defence plans after Turkey withdraws veto

BNS2020.06.30 17:45

NATO has endorsed the updated defense plans for the Baltic states and Poland after reaching a compromise with Turkey. Ankara had previously blocked the plans, calling for allied support in its conflict with the Kurds.

"We can now say that the issue has been practically resolved. They are endorsed," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told BNS on Tuesday.

NATO approved the first defence plans for the Baltic states in 2010, but Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland have called on them to be updated in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

During the NATO summit in London in December last year, Turkey said it would block the plan, known as Eagle Defender, calling for allied support against the Kurds in northern Syria.

However, allies have been reluctant to back Ankara, as US and forces from other NATO member countries have fought alongside, as well as supported, the Kurdish PYD in northern Syria in the fight against ISIS.

During the NATO summit in London last December, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda announced that the Baltic states and Poland had convinced Turkey to back down, saying “no one demanded anything from us in return”.

But formal procedures should have been completed before they come into force, and Turkey has stalled them.

Linkevičius said he tanked his Turkish counterpart on Monday, but refused to provide details on the details of the comprise.

"A political decision was made during the London summit in December, which was announced, but we still needed to do [...] coordinate and the process has taken the amount of time it has taken," Linkevičius said.

"The decision has been made and it's a successful decision, we can congratulate each other on, and I did that as well when talking to my Turkish counterpart," the minister said.

"It's a normal process as all decisions within NATO [...] are taken by means of consensus and agreement,” he added.

Delfi.lt in Lithuania was the first to report the breakthrough in the ongoing negotiations.

"The coordination stage is over and we need to implement it, therefore, military officers and defense planners will now also have an important job to do," said Linkevičius.

"Turkey [...] defends its interests in a principled manner on all matters, this was no exception,” he said.

Ankara’s opposition “was not directed against the Baltic states or Lithuania. [...] therefore, one should not make any drama out of it as the result is positive and we welcome it”.

The defense plans are classified but Lithuanian officials regularly ask allies to ensure air defence capabilities and swifter deployment of allied forces in case of a crisis.