Confusion grows over Patriot bid to Turkey
BRUSSELS / ANKARA
Confusion is growing over the deployment of NATO’s Patriot missiles along Turkey’s border with Syria following back-to-back statements from senior Turkish officials.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters yesterday in Indonesia that Turkey had no plans over the Patriot deployment. “We do not have any plans to pay money to procure Patriots.”
Later in the day, however, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was quoted to be saying NATO was preparing to deploy Patriot missiles on Turkish soil. However, the report was later denied by the Foreign Ministry. Erdoğan said Turkey had not made any request to deploy the missiles. His comments came after a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Turkey planned to make an “imminent” request to NATO for the missiles to be deployed along its border with Syria. NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said earlier this week that NATO would consider such a request when it is made by an ally.
A Turkish official said Ankara would renew its official request to NATO for the deployment of a Patriot missile defense system to protect NATO’s radar system in Kürecik in eastern Turkey in the near future. The move comes after previous talks with the alliance regarding the defense system.
The deployment of Patriots in Turkish territory was considered within the framework of a contingency plan regarding the security of Turkey and NATO territories, the official said. “We have previously asked for a NATO deployment of Patriots to protect Kürecik, and now we’ll renew our request,” the official said. The Syrian shelling of the Turkish border town of Akçakale in October that killed five Turkish nationals accelerated Turkey’s need for Patriots.