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NATO, Austria, block, Turkey
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NATO urges Turkey, Austria to end dispute

16/03/17Defence

NATO has urged Turkey and Austria to settle a dispute over Ankara’s EU membership bid that has led Turkey to impede co-operation with the alliance’s partner countries.

Austria’s chancellor, Christian Kern, has repeatedly called on the EU to end membership talks with Turkey.

In retaliation, Turkey has blocked Austria’s partner programmes with NATO. Austria is not a NATO member, but has a partnership with the organisation.

Confirming press reports, a NATO official said: “We regret the current situation and the impact it is having on all of our co-operation programmes with partners.

“NATO supports constructive dialogue between countries. We count on our ally Turkey and our partner Austria to solve their bilateral issue swiftly.”

Austrian Defence Ministry spokesman Stefan Hirsch confirmed that the “Turkish blockade of Austria’s partner programmes with NATO began several months ago”.

He said: “It has no immediate impact on our missions in the western Balkans. But in the mid- to long-term, the blockade can lead to problems because it can hinder our ability to prepare new missions.”

German daily Die Welt said the Turkish action effectively blocked all of NATO’s various co-operation programmes with non-member states.

Hirsch added that diplomatic talks with Ankara were ongoing and that Austria, as one of the biggest providers of troops in Kosovo, was counting on NATO to help find a solution.