Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lambasted Turkey during his final NATO meeting this week, underscoring again the extent of tensions within the military alliance, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Speaking to a confidential meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Pompeo described Ankara’s decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system as a gift to Moscow, Reuters said citing officials and diplomats present.
Turkey pushed ahead with the S-400 deal despite repeated warnings the missiles risked breaching NATO operation security if used alongside with the Western alliance’s own hardware, conducting a test launch on Oct. 16.
Pompeo also accused Turkey of destabilising the eastern Mediterranean in its competition with Greece and Cyprus over access to recently discovered hydrocarbons and told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu that Turkey was wrong to deploy Syrian mercenaries to the conflicts in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, Reuters said.
Other countries including France, Greece and Luxembourg vocally echoed Pompeo’s comments, making the tone of the meeting more confrontational than usual, the news agency said.
NATO unity “was not was not possible if an ally copied Russian actions”, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, according to Reuters.
NATO has sought to play a mediating role between Turkey and Greece, establishing a deconfliction mechanism aimed at avoiding the risk of a direct confrontation.
“I am committed to strengthening this mechanism so that there can be comprehensive confidence-building measures,” Greek newspaper Kathimerini cited NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying following the foreign ministers meeting.