President Duda hopes for agreement with Turkey over NATO defense plans for eastern flank

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Poland's President Andrzej Duda ahead of NATO summit in LondonPAP/EPA
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Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday he had spoken to Turkey's President Tayyip Erdorgan about NATO military plans that Ankara is blocking for the Baltics and Poland, saying that he hoped for a solution. Polish head of state also urged French President Emmanuel Macron to put forward "concrete" NATO reform proposals.

"NATO is an alliance of nearly 30 countries, all having their own interest. It's a huge platform for discussion, negotiation," Duda added.

Polish president also said on Tuesday that he had spoken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdorgan on Monday about NATO defense plans for Poland and Baltics that Ankara is blocking. "I hope we will find a good solution," Duda said.

Duda also said it was up to French President Emmanuel Macron to make "concrete proposals" to reform NATO after Macron described the alliance as "experiencing brain death."

Poland's Duda says hopes to agree with Turkey to unblock NATO plans
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At loggerheads

Relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues, ranging from Ankara's decision to procure Russian air defence systems to Syria policy. Several NATO members condemned Turkey's decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia.

Ankara has refused to back a NATO defence plan for the Baltics and Poland until it receives more support for its battle with the YPG, which it views as a terrorist organisation.

Ahead of his departure from Ankara for the NATO summit, Erdogan comfirmed that he had spoken to Polish President Andrzej Duda on the phone on Monday and had agreed to meet with him and leaders of Baltic countries in London to discuss the issue.

"With pleasure, we can come together and discuss these issues there as well," he said. "But if our friends at NATO do not recognise as terrorist organisations those we consider terrorist organisations ... we will stand against any step that will be taken there."

A Turkish security source said on Monday that Turkey is not "blackmailing" NATO with its rejection of the plans and that it has full veto rights within the alliance.

Turkey, France, Germany and the United Kingdom are expected to hold a separate meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Erdogan said they would mainly discuss Turkish plans to establish a safe zone in northeast Syria, which has until now been met with criticism from Ankara's European allies.

Definition of terrorism

French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey on Tuesday of working with Islamic State proxies and said Ankara's ambiguity towards the group was detrimental to its NATO allies fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Relations between Macron and Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan have soured ahead of Wednesday's NATO summit in London with the two leaders trading barbs over Ankara's cross-border offensive in northeast Syria targeting Kurdish militias.

Speaking alongside U.S. President Donald Trump, Macron directly linked Turkey to Islamic State fighters, while dismissing Trump's concerns that Paris was not bringing home French Islamic State fighters held by Kurdish groups in Syria.

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

"When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies."

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters