OSLO: Turkey has not asked for substantial military help from NATO in its campaign against IS and Kurdish militants, the alliance’s chief said on Monday, a day before it meets to discuss the fighting.
Jens Stoltenberg also warned Turkey that its bombing campaign could endanger the progress that has been made in recent years toward reaching a peace deal with Kurdish militants.
NATO ambassadors are due to meet on Tuesday at Ankara’s request to discuss the spike of violence between Turkey, Islamic State and Kurdish militants.
“Turkey has a very strong army and very strong security forces. So there has been no request for any substantial NATO military support,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with the BBC.
Turkey bombed IS positions in Syria for the first time last week, after a suicide bombing blamed on the militants killed 32 people on the border with the war-torn nation.
It has also bombed positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq for the first time in four years, after the militants, who accuse Ankara of colluding with the Islamists, claimed the killing of two police officers.
While applauding Ankara for joining the fight against the IS, the NATO chief cautioned that “self-defence has to be proportionate”.
And in an interview with Norwegian television late Sunday, he warned that Turkey’s strikes on Kurdish militants risked undermining years of tortuous peace talks.
“For years there has been progress to try to find a peaceful political solution. It is important not to renounce that… because force will never solve the conflict in the long term.”
Turkey regards the PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984, as a terror group and the main Syrian Kurdish group fighting IS — the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — as the PKK’s Syrian branch.