Wednesday, 11 December, 2019

Trump enters war of words between Macron, Erdogan

NATO soldiers of U.S. take part in a military exercise'Saber Strike 2018 at the Training Range in Pabrade some 60km north of the capital Vilnius Lithuania Monday Turkey threatens to block NATO plan on summit eve
Deanna Wagner | 04 December, 2019, 22:25

U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper urged Turkey on Monday to stop holding up support for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence plan for the Baltics and Poland, as Ankara presses the alliance to support its fight against U.S. -backed Kurdish YPG militia in Syria.

Professor Gulnur Aybet, foreign policy senior advisor to President Erdogan said however that the initial "leak" of the Baltic region defence plan had led to "misunderstandings" and made clear that the plan itself was part of an internal North Atlantic Treaty Organisation debate, though neither she or Stoltenberg spoke of how the issue could be solved.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was looking at imposing sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian missile system, blaming his predecessor for not selling Ankara a U.S. missile system.

"I think any ambiguity with Turkey vis-a-vis these groups is detrimental to everybody for the situation on the ground", Macron said.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation envoys need formal approval by all 29 members for the plan to improve the defence of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia against any threat from neighbouring Russian Federation.

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"The common enemy today is the terrorist groups, as we mentioned, and I'm sorry to say that we don't have the same definition of terrorism around the table", Macron said.

He noted that Turkish forces have attacked the Kurdish militia that backed the allies against the Islamic State in Syria, and he accused Ankara of working with "ISIS proxies".

Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later came face to face at four-way talks with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain's Johnson.

Turkey has accused North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies of backing Baltic countries' security concerns but dismissing threats to Turkey from Kurdish fighters.

Also on Wednesday, Trump and Stoltenberg touted a defense spending increase of a combined $130 billion by the European allies and Canada since 2016. The cease-fire is holding very much so and I think people are surprised, ' Trump said. The latest numbers show that Ankara spends 1.89 percent expenditure toward its GDP while France allocated 1.84 percent of its GDP to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation budget.