NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller is set to visit Ankara on Jan. 22, and Istanbul on Jan. 23, amid the Turkish military’s ongoing cross border operation against Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province.
Ankara will brief the NATO official about the ongoing incursions, as part of the diplomatic briefings given to partners and international bodies, a foreign Ministry official told Hürriyet Daily News.
Gottemoeller will hold meetings with Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Ambassador Ahmet Yıldız, and other high level officials. Gottemoeller will also visit the NATO Center of Excellence for Defense against Terrorism, and participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Atatürk Mausoleum. In Istanbul, she is scheduled to visit the 3rd Army Corps and Multinational Joint Warfare Centre Command and deliver a speech at the National Defense University.
Her visit comes after Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sent a letter last week to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Stoltenberg informed Erdoğan about the measures taken after an incident at NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre in Norway in November. The Secretary General once more apologized for the scandal, diplomatic sources told Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity.
Turkey had withdrawn 40 troops from the NATO military drill in Norway after a scandalous incident in which the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were targetted.
Communication with regional envoys
The Turkish Foreign Ministry is keeping ambassadors from several countries in the region informed about the operation, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also spoke on the phone with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Jan. 21, to inform him about Turkey’s military engagements in Syria’s Afrin.
The ambassadors of Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were also invited to the ministry for a briefing on Jan. 21, along with the EU ambassador to Ankara.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Jan. 20 summoned Russia and the U.S.’s top Ankara-based diplomats to inform them about the ongoing military operation in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province. Turkey has also invited the Iranian ambassador to Ankara.
With diplomatic channels unusually busy following the announcement of the Turkish military operation dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by the Turkish army, Çavuşoğlu has held talks with U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson in the wake of the announcement at Washington’s request.
Ambassadors from the three remaining permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, France and China – will also be summoned, with Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Kaan Esener set to conduct the talks.
Syrian regime notified on operation: Turkey
Turkey has notified the Syrian regime about the Afrin operation through letters, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 20 in a televised interview with T24.
Turkey had to reach out to Syria, a U.N. member, even if only through letters, Çavuşoğlu said in another interview with broadcaster NTV on the same day.