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INTERNATIONAL >Turkey says blocking of some NATO projects only aimed at Austria

BRUSSELS – Reuters

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Turkey’s withdrawal of some NATO cooperation with partner countries is only aimed at Austria, a spokeswoman for Ankara’s mission to the military alliance said on March 16. 

Diplomatic tensions between Austria and Turkey predate a current escalation with other European countries. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said late last year that it wanted the freezing of Turkey’s accession talks to the EU, which caused a row between the two countries. 

A spokesman for Austria’s Defense Ministry said the blockade has been going on for months.

NATO officials told Reuters on March 15 that Turkey’s blocking of 2017 projects - mostly military training ones - has not only affected Austria but also other countries that are not members of the alliance but cooperate with it.

“There have been some tensions with Austria and a resulting blockage. It is, however, only targeted at Austria, the other partners are not targeted at all,” said Fatma Paşaoğlu, spokeswoman for Turkey’s mission to NATO in Brussels.

Austria led calls last year to stop European Union membership talks with Turkey after a widespread crackdown on the alleged involvement in a failed coup attempt in July 2016, which the Turkish government accuses of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen of orchestrating.

Vienna also spoke out against “democracy rallies,” aimed at showing solidarity with the Turkish state after the coup attempt, months before the more recent debate about events to promote yes-votes amongst Turkish voters in Europe in an April 16 constitutional referendum.

The moves infuriated Ankara, which withdrew its ambassador from Vienna in August last year.

March/16/2017

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