Davutoglu: NATO is preparing to deploy Patriot missiles in Turkey

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen with Turkey

From Today’s Zaman:  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Wednesday that NATO is preparing to deploy Patriot missiles on Syrian border in Turkey, a development that could add a new dimension to the 19-month-old Syria crisis.

His remarks in Brussels follow statements by Turkish officials earlier in the day who said Turkey is in talks with the US and NATO over the deployment of Patriot missiles along its border with Syria. . . .

Earlier, the Reuters news agency, quoting a senior Foreign Ministry official, said Ankara was to make an “imminent request” to NATO for the deployment of Patriot missiles, while the private NTV television reported that the request would be made in the coming days.

In Brussels, a NATO spokeswoman said the alliance has not received a request from Turkey yet, reiterating Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s remarks earlier in the week that NATO will consider such a request when it is made by an ally. “As the secretary-general said on Monday, the allies will consider any request that is brought to the North Atlantic Council,” the spokeswoman was quoted as saying by Reuters.

[Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan said any initiative for the purchase of such missiles should go through him and not the Foreign Ministry. NATO offers such assistance to allies when their security is threatened but it does not sell weaponry to member states. . . .

Erdoğan said Turkey expected NATO member US to take “different” steps in regard to Syria, adding that he will have “top-level discussions” on this issue.

Turkish officials have said Ankara, which seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, expects the US administration to get involved more actively in efforts to end the crisis in Syria once the presidential elections are over. “We want to immediately discuss this issue. This is a very important issue that we cannot leave unattended because it negatively affects us in a very direct way,” Erdoğan said.  (photo: Reuters)

UPDATE From AFP"This issue (Patriots) is also coming up on the agenda within the framework of deliberations, preparations and contingency planning on the security of Turkey and NATO territories," foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal told AFP. . .

The US-made Patriot system is capable of intercepting both aircraft and missiles. . . .

Turkey is hoping to secure more backing for its stance from the United States after the re-election of President Barack Obama, after diplomatic sources expressed disappointment with what they see as a lack of robust action on the Syria conflict by Washington.

Erdogan said Wednesday he expected the United States to handle the Syria crisis differently than before, in remarks carried by the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper reported that the United States was considering installing Patriot missiles along the Turkey-Syria border to create some form of no-fly zone, as long as there was no involvement of ground troops in Syria. 

UPDATE From Today’s ZamanWhen Prime Minister Erdoğan denied media reports suggesting that NATO is preparing to deploy Patriot missiles along the Syrian border, the issue of the deployment of an air defense system became much more complicated, with conflicting statements from Turkish officials over the past two days. . . .

Davutoğlu, currently in Brussels for EU talks, said in a press conference on Wednesday that NATO is obliged to defend all its members. Regarding reports and mounting questions over the deployment of Patriot missiles along the Syrian border, Davutoğlu said even if Turkey has no demand, NATO is making its own preparations to defend all its members, including Turkey.

Asked whether Patriot missiles have been discussed in consultations with NATO, he said it is normal to discuss every kind of defense measure that would be taken against any sort of risk.

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