Turkey Blocks NATO Partnerships in Row with Austria


BERLIN (Telegraph) — Turkey is blocking NATO cooperation with more than 40 partner countries in a diplomatic row with Austria, it has emerged.

Austria has been prevented from taking part in exercises or future operations with the alliance despite the fact it has more than 400 troops serving alongside NATO forces in Kosovo.

Other partner countries such as Finland, Sweden and Ireland have also been affected by the ban, along with several former Soviet states.

Austria on Tuesday accused Turkey of “endangering the security interests of Europe” and branded its action as “irresponsible”.

The Turkish government is believed to be acting in retaliation for Austrian moves to block it from joining the EU.

Austria is among President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s most outspoken EU critics, and has called for accession talks to be formally ended.

But while it can block Turkish accession to the EU, at NATO the roles are reversed. With the second largest military in the alliance, Turkey is a full NATO member while Austria is only a partner country.

“I strongly condemn Turkey’s course of action in NATO. It is irresponsible behavior against Austria and strengthens my position that Turkey is very far from being part of the EU,” Hans-Peter Doskozil, the Austrian defense minister, told the BBC.

“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.”

Turkey is understood to have been blocking cooperation with Austria and other partner countries since November last year.

Hopes it would relent have faded and NATO is to hold a meeting on Thursday to address the issue.

The alliance is expected to revise its procedures so the Turkish veto will no longer apply to all partner countries.

But while that will free cooperation with other partners, it will not end the impasse with Austria.

Officials on Tuesday insisted NATO was not ending its cooperation with Austria.

But an unnamed senior diplomat told Germany’s Welt newspaper: “Unfortunately, President Erdogan is going to succeed in isolating Austria within the alliance”.