Rasmussen fails to persuade Turkey to close İzmir base

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen with Turkey

From Ercan Yavuz, Today’s Zaman:  The chief of NATO failed to persuade Turkey to shut down the alliance’s command base in the Aegean city of İzmir as part of its decision last year to scale down the number of command bases during his brief visit to Ankara on Monday.
A senior Turkish government official told Today’s Zaman under the condition of anonymity that Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s efforts to spur Turkish authorities to agree on the closure of the NATO Allied Air Component Command in İzmir failed utterly. NATO’s secretary-general had talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Monday during his four-hour visit to Ankara.

NATO is currently using its command base in İzmir to oversee its aerial mission as part of the operation against Libyan forces loyal to Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and Rasmussen plans the closure of the command base right after the operation finishes. …

Erdoğan reportedly told Rasmussen that NATO’s İzmir base could only be closed after Turkey becomes a European Union member, claiming that the base is the single component that maintains Turkey’s links with trans-Atlantic space.

NATO has two command bases in Germany and two in Italy. NATO’s other bases are located in Turkey, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania. …

Another senior government official told Today’s Zaman that Turkey could use its authority, including its veto right, to stave off the shutdown of the İzmir command base in NATO’s June meeting.  (photo: NATO)  (via EUCOM)

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