Allied land command of NATO launched in İzmir
İZMİR - Anatolia News Agency
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Adm Stavridis (L) and Allied Land Commander Lt Gen Hodges are seen during a ceremony in İzmir. AA photo / Evren AtalayNATO has inaugurated a new base in the western province of İzmir as part of a new effort to update the alliance’s command structure. The new Allied Land Command will serve as a base for carrying out land operations when ordered by the alliance following the inspection, evaluation, preparation and standardization of NATO land forces.
As part of the opening, NATO supreme commander Adm. James Stavridis thanked Turkey for its efforts in Afghanistan, Libya and the Balkans. “NATO has trusted Turkey at every step since its membership. Likewise, Turkey can always trust in NATO,” he said at a ceremony that drew Turkish Aegean Army Corps Cmdr. Abdullah Atay.
Stavridis thanked the Turkish people, the Turkish Armed Forces and the people of İzmir for the support they had given the base.
Noting the symbolic nature of choosing İzmir for the site, Stavridis said: “İzmir has been at the junction of cultures for centuries. Ultimately, NATO is a bridge connecting 28 countries in an alliance. Therefore, I believe the land command being in İzmir has a symbolic meaning.”
Speaking about the deployment of Patriot missiles in southern Turkey to ward off a possible Syrian attack, NATO Allied Land Commander Gen. Frederick Ben Hodges said the deployment aimed to protect the Turkish people. “The evaluation team composed of officials from the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands and NATO were assigned in less than a week upon Turkey’s request. I expect the evaluation team to complete their work in a few days. If the deployment of the Patriots is accepted, it will be done to protect the Turkish people. The aim of the Patriots is never to create a no-fly zone or to attack.”
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said there had been considerable progress in preparations and that a decision would be given within days. Lungescu said the operational command would be stationed at Ramstein Air Forces Command in Germany.
Meanwhile, a NATO delegation left the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa after visiting nearby Malatya and Diyarbakır to scope out possible sites for the missiles.