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Erdogan says NATO allies must back Turkey’s fight against terrorism

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers his weekly speech to members of the parliament on October 23, 2018, in Ankara, Turkey. (Depo Photos/Zuma Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed that Ankara dropped its objection to a NATO plan to bolster the defense of Poland and the Baltic states, adding that it now expected the allies’ support in its fight against terrorism.

“They all called us and asked us for support on this. After talks with my colleagues, we said yes to this, but you must not abandon us in the fight against terrorism,” Erdogan told Turkish reporters in London on December 5.

Turkey had threatened not to endorse the plan for Poland and Baltic states if the alliance did not support Turkey over its fight against Kurdish groups in Syria it considers terrorists.

But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the end of a London summit of the 29-member alliance on December 4 that Turkey had lifted its block on the plan.

Turkey has faced criticism from other NATO members over its military operation in Syria to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters away from the Turkish-Syria border.

Kurdish-led forces drove fighters of the Islamic State extremist group out of eastern Syria with the help of a multinational coalition led by the United States.

Also on December 5, Erdogan said he would meet the leaders of France, Germany, and Britain in Istanbul in February.