Turkey has forced NATO allies to present a milder official response to the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Belarus.
This was reported by the Reuters news agency, citing two diplomats familiar with the matter.
On Wednesday, 30 NATO allies issued a two-point statement condemning the forced landing of a Ryanair flight to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich, but not providing for any punitive measures that the Baltic states and Poland had insisted on.
The statement was also less harsh than the public remarks of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. He called the incident “outrageous” and a “ state abduction.”
Ankara has insisted that any mention of supporting more sanctions against Belarus and calls for the release of political prisoners remain out of the text, two diplomats said. The phrase that threatens to suspend NATO’s cooperation with Belarus has also been removed, they added.
Turkey’s motives are still unclear.
The diplomats said Ankara may be trying to maintain ties with Moscow, Belarus closest ally, and maintain economic relations with Belarus with the help of Turkish Airlines, which operates daily flights to Minsk. We can also talk about Turkey’s desire to receive Russian tourists this summer after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on this information.
A NATO spokesman said: “The statement of the North Atlantic Council on Belarus was agreed by all 30 member countries by consensus. We do not resort to the details of the discussions in the North Atlantic Council, which are confidential.”
One of the diplomats said Stoltenberg had obtained the agreement of all allies, including Turkey, on the final text published on the NATO website to avoid further public disagreements.
As reported, the North Atlantic Council condemned the actions of Belarus on the forced landing of the Ryanair flight, as well as the arrest of Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapieha.