Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Nato hit by Turkish veto on Austria partnership

Turkey is vetoing Nato's co-operation with Austria, blocking the alliance's partnership activities with 41 countries, the BBC understands.

Turkey is in Nato, providing the most military muscle after the US, while Austria is not. But Austria co-operates closely with Nato, and has more than 400 troops serving in Kosovo.

Austria condemned the Turkish veto, calling it "irresponsible".

Turkey is angry with Austria for trying to block its bid to join the EU.

A well-informed source told the BBC that heightened tensions between Turkey and Austria had essentially blocked Nato co-operation with the government in Vienna for the past year. The veto was affecting all the Western alliance's partnership activities, which include several ex-Soviet states.
A Nato meeting is planned for Thursday, at the 28-nation alliance's Brussels headquarters.

A Nato official said the main topics would be the fight against terrorism, and fairer burden-sharing.

US President Donald Trump has criticised Nato members who fail to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defence. Besides the US and UK only Poland, Greece and Estonia currently meet that target.

In a statement sent to the BBC, Austria's Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil lambasted Turkey for its veto.

"I strongly condemn Turkey's course of action in Nato. It is irresponsible behaviour against Austria and strengthens my position that Turkey is very far from being part of the EU," he said.

"In this, Turkey is endangering the security interests of Europe. The blockade has a long-term impact on the peace missions in the Western Balkans."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed Austria for frosty relations with the EU, amid tensions over illegal immigration via Turkey and his huge crackdown on political opponents.

BBC    News.