British agency Reuters said Turkey had lobbied NATO for a softening of the bloc’s official reaction to Belarus in the Ryanair hijacking case, citing two informed diplomatic sources.
Yesterday on Wednesday, the NATO Alliance issued a two-paragraph statement condemning the incident that led to the arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich. The statement, however, did not contain any punitive measures against Minsk, despite pressure from the Baltic states and Poland.
In addition, it was clearly softer than the previous statement of the Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who spoke of the “hijacking of a state plane” as an “outrageous” incident.
Ankara insisted that any mention of new Western sanctions against Belarus, demands for the release of political prisoners and rhetoric about the suspension of cooperation between NATO and Minsk were excluded from the text, Reuters quoted the two diplomats as saying. So far, Turkey’s motives are unclear.
Diplomats say Ankara may seek to maintain ties with Moscow, Minsk’s closest ally, as well as economic ties with Belarus through Turkish Airlines, which operates daily flights to Minsk. Another scenario could be Turkey’s desire to host Russian tourists this summer following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has not yet commented.
A NATO spokesman said that the NATO Council’s statement on Belarus had been agreed upon by all 30 allies. “We do not consider the details of the discussions, which are confidential,” he added. One diplomat said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had obtained the consent of all Allies, including Turkey, for the final text published on NATO’s website to avoid further controversy from the public.
Irritation of the Baltic countries
Ankara’s insistence on “softening” the final text is reportedly still irritating to several allies, including Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, who insist on tougher language.
The source told the agency that Turkey’s actions were mainly focused on using rhetoric different from the corresponding position of the EU, which also provided for sanctions against Minsk. “Some allies were very unhappy with Turkey. It was important for NATO to react and it is not clear why Ankara wanted to protect Lukashenka, ”said a European diplomat who was present at the meeting.
Another point of view: this is not Erdogan, this is Biden
However, the US position may also be behind the reasons for NATO’s “soft” rhetoric. It is known that Joe Biden is preparing for a meeting with Vladimir Putin. Moreover, it is known that the current US President, in his last address to his Russian counterpart, has already tried to smooth out previous statements from his administration.
It is noteworthy that President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to him for having discussed the situation in the republic with American leader Joe Biden without his consent. About it writes BelTA.