After meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Mevly Cavusoglu, R, on Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, L, affirmed the bloc's support for Turkey. Photo courtesy of NATO
Oct. 5 (UPI) -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that NATO's security interests are synonymous with those of Turkey, and promised the bloc's support.
Stoltenberg noted Turkey's role in counterterrorism after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Monday, but on the matter of Turkey's purchase of a Russian-made and NATO-incompatible missile defense system, he added, "Alternative ways of solving this issue should be explored."
Stoltenberg also praised NATO members Turkey and Greece for using diplomatic means to attempt to resolve differences over Mediterranean Sea mineral rights, although Greece has begun enlarging its military force.
Cavusoglu said Turkey would continue to protect its rights in the eastern Mediterranean, but added, "Still, I express my gratitude to NATO for its mediating role."
He also brought up a simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics adjacent to Turkey. They are clashing over the breakaway Azerbaijani province of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey backs Azerbaijan, and the United States has been notably silent. There have been reports of deaths, and hundreds of injuries, since fighting erupted on the border last week.
"It is normal for NATO to call for a cease-fire in a balanced way, as well as for a peaceful solution to the problem," Cavusoglu said at a press conference following his meeting with Stoltenberg. "However, everybody, especially NATO, should be present in the call for the resolution of this matter. That is, Armenia should withdraw from there within the framework of international law and the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council."