UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM FOREIGN MINISTER MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, ADDS BACKGROUND, INFO ON MEETINGS WITH OFFICIALS
By Ali Murat Alhas and Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish foreign minister on Friday said Ankara did not make any concessions in the recent NATO leaders' summit and that Turkey's approval of the issuing of NATO's Baltics plan was dependent on the pact's recognition of the YPG/PKK terrorist threat from northern Syria.
Mevlut Cavusoglu's remarks came amid his visit to Rome, where he is currently attending the fifth edition of the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) conference.
Underlining that comments alleging Turkey made concession's on its block of NATO plans to increase deployments to the Baltic region, Cavusoglu said: "So long as our plan [in which YPG/PKK is regarded as a threat] is not issued, their plan [NATO's Baltic defense] will most certainly not be issued."
"NATO currently has two defense plans. One for Turkey, and one for Poland and three Baltic countries," he said, adding that the alliance had a strict procedure for the passage of such plans through its military committee as well as the NATO Council, before going into effect.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
Cavusoglu said Turkey's plan passed the military committee and NATO council, but has yet to be issued due to the objection raised by "some countries".
According to Cavusoglu, Turkey first blocked the Baltics plan due to objections towards its own plan. However, it then made a gesture to Baltic states by allowing the plan to pass the council.
He underlined that the Baltics plan would go to the committee again, then be issued simultaneously with the Turkish plan.
"Why?" Cavusoglu said, "Of course, we are not against them [Baltic countries], but NATO's mission is to protect all allies," he said, criticizing countries approving the Baltics plan while obstructing Turkey's.
Noting that Turkey informed Poland and the Baltic countries on this matter, he said: "If [plans] are issued, they will be issued simultaneously; if a problem occurs, then both plans will be hampered."
- Eastern Mediterranean
Referring to the country’s recent maritime deal with Libya, Cavusoglu said Ankara was open to bilateral and multilateral agreements in the eastern Mediterranean region, with the only exception of the Greek Cypriot administration, which it does not recognize.
"In the Eastern Mediterranean, we have said the same thing since the very beginning. With exception of the Greek Cypriot administration, we are ready to have bilateral or multilateral agreements with all countries, but some countries preferred taking unilateral steps and criticizing Turkey."
He condemned Greece's decision to expel its Libyan envoy over a maritime pact last month between Tripoli and Ankara, saying Athens had revealed its true colors with the move.
"We condemn the [Greek] decision to expel [Libyan] envoy over signing of the memorandum of understanding [between Turkey and Libya]. Libya is an independent, sovereign state. This [move] shows the real face of Greece," he added.
The memorandum asserts Turkish and Libyan rights in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea where tensions have mounted following unilateral drilling activities by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region's rich hydrocarbon reserves worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Cavusoglu has been actively involved in diplomatic talks with a variety of officials in Rome, including UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Pierre Heilbronn, UN Special Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Kallo Ankourao and Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil.