Stoltenberg Says Turkey's NATO Membership Unquestionable Despite Operation in Syria

© AP Photo / Lefteris PitarakisA Turkish police armoured vehicle patrols the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey
A Turkish police armoured vehicle patrols the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with the German Bild newspaper that he did not question Turkey’s membership of the alliance despite Ankara’s military operation in northern Syria.

The NATO chief stressed that even though Turkish actions were condemned by many NATO member states, he still saw the country as an important ally and player in the region, adding that the violence in northeastern Syria had, indeed, been reduced following the operation.

According to Stoltenberg, Turkey played a key role in weakening Daesh* by helping the United States, among other countries, in neutralising the movement's leader, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, whose death did not bring an actual end to the Caliphate.

He also drew attention to the fact that Turkey was the only country that accepted 3.6 million refugees from Syria and the only alliance state that encountered so many terrorist attacks. For that reason, Stoltenberg noted, the fight against Daesh* in Syria should continue.

The NATO secretary-general also commented on the proposal of German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to create an international safe zone in northern Syria on the border with Turkey under the auspices of the United Nations, saying he welcomed such efforts.

Stoltenberg emphasised the need for new ideas to resolve the conflict in addition to the existing agreements such as those between Turkey and Russia.

© Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov / Go to the photo bankRussian President V. Putin Meets with Turkish President R. T. Erdogan
Stoltenberg Says Turkey's NATO Membership Unquestionable Despite Operation in Syria - Sputnik International
Russian President V. Putin Meets with Turkish President R. T. Erdogan

Last month, Ankara launched Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria to clear the area of Kurdish militia it considers terrorists and Daesh*. The United States and Turkey came to an agreement on 17 October for a 120-hour ceasefire in the area to allow the withdrawal of the Kurdish fighters.

As the five-day ceasefire came to an end, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached a deal that would see the Kurdish fighters pull back from the border. In addition, Moscow and Ankara have begun joint patrols in the operation zone along the Turkish border.

*Daesh (also known as IS/ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia

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