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NATO Works to Bolster Turkey's 'Assurance Measures'

Sputnik News

16:33 30.11.2015(updated 17:37 30.11.2015)

NATO is working on further assurance measures to support Turkey, the NATO ally who is on the frontline of a volatile region bordering Iraq and Syria, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is working to further bolster Turkey's defense capabilities, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

"We are also working on further assurance measures to support Turkey, the NATO ally who is on the frontline of a volatile region bordering Iraq and Syria," Stoltenberg said ahead of the alliance's foreign ministerial meeting.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Turkey's contacts with Russia over resolving tensions in the wake of the Su-24 downing incident.

'My message now is that [I] welcome all and any contacts between Moscow and Ankara, and the important thing is to calm the tensions,' Stoltenberg told reporters after the closure of his meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels.

The meeting comes a day after the Turkey-European Union summit in Brussels, where Turkey's EU accession bid was revived after years of cooled relations.

Turkish-Russian relations have deteriorated rapidly after the downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber by Turkey on November 24. The plane was downed by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 jet over Syrian territory. Russia's General Staff rejected Ankara's claims of the aircraft violating Turkish airspace.

The Russian plane's pilot was killed by gunfire from the ground after ejecting from the aircraft, while the co-pilot was rescued.

Jens Stoltenberg also stated that the foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will review the implementation of the Minsk agreement aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis.

"We will of course assess the progress and the challenges we face regarding the implementation of the Minsk agreements," Stoltenberg told reporters, referring to a December 1-2 NATO foreign ministerial meeting agenda.

The NATO chief noted progress achieved over the summer, but highlighted a recent spike in ceasefire violations between Ukrainian government forces and pro-independence militias.

Minsk accords are a set of measures developed by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to facilitate the process of Ukraine's reconciliation after Kiev launched a military operation against militias in eastern Ukraine in April 2014.

A ceasefire, first agreed by the four leaders in February 2015 and reaffirmed in September, has been largely holding for the past three months.


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