Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that sanctions against Turkey would weaken the NATO alliance, in a statement the ministry released on Thursday.
Turkey has been in NATO for 69 years, Akar said, adding that the country would “continue to play an active role in the alliance and completely fulfill our commitments within the alliance”.
“The alliance will be strong if allies are strong,” Akar told his counterparts in a NATO defence ministers meeting. “Licence restrictions and attempts and threats of sanctions against Turkey weaken the alliance.”
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting on Turkish soil for some 40 years and has been designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, is “the biggest obstacle against the NATO mission in Iraq”, Akar said.
The Turkish minister repeated Turkey’s position that the PKK was intrinsically connected to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian Kurdish group that was partnered with the international coalition to defeat ISIS, and has received significant support from the United States in particular.
Akar informed his counterparts on Turkey’s Operation Claw Eagle 2 against the PKK in northern Iraq, during which 13 people were found dead in a cave in the Gara region. Turkey accuses the PKK of having executed the 13 men, while the PKK says they were prisoners who died in a Turkish airstrike.
The minister said Turkey would continue to contribute to NATO’s Afghanistan mission, and that as the alliance member responsible for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2021, it would “provide, in addition to our current contributions, cyber capabilities and additional land, sea and air forces for Aerial Policing and regional security flights”.
Turkey’s relationship with the alliance has been rocky, over its purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems and the lack of NATO support it received last year when Ankara petitioned for support during clashes with the Syrian government forces in the rebel-held Idlib province.