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POLITICS > Dutch and German Patriots arrive in Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

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German military vehicles carrying equipment for NATO Patriot defense missiles bdisembark at Turkey’s Mediterranean port of İskenderun. REUTERS photo

German military vehicles carrying equipment for NATO Patriot defense missiles bdisembark at Turkey’s Mediterranean port of İskenderun. REUTERS photo

Sevil Erkuş Sevil Erkuş sevil.kucukkosum@hdn.com.tr

Dutch and German soldiers arrived at the southern port of İskenderun yesterday to unload Patriot missiles ahead of deployment along the Syrian border as Ankara and NATO neared a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that would clarify details such as the share of costs, according to Brussels-based sources.

German soldiers unloaded trucks yesterday carrying the missile systems in İskenderun in the southern province of Hatay while another ship carrying the Dutch shipment waited its turn in the harbor.

“There are 300 vehicles, 100 containers and 400 soldiers on the ship. These will be sent to Kahramanmaraş and used in the event of a potential threat [from Syria]. We will not intervene in any clashes in the region. The Patriot defense systems are capable of hitting a target immediately in the air.

The target will explode at the exact moment that it is hit and pieces of it will fall on the ground. As it is the latest technology, the harm it causes will remain at a minimum,” said Col. Marcus Ellermann, the commander of the German Patriot Missile Defense System team, according to Anatolia news agency.

The systems will be deployed in Turkey as part of a NATO decision to support Turkey’s air defense against a missile threat from Syria. NATO said last week the system should be operational by early February, perhaps sooner.

Meanwhile, Brussels-based sources said they expected the MoU to be concluded “very soon,” adding that it needsedto be signed within the framework of the deployment of the Patriots.

Earlier this month, Turkish, Dutch, German and U.S. military officials conducted talks in Brussels on a MoU that would be signed in order to clarify details such as the share of costs.

Foreign soldiers assigned to operate the system in Turkey will be placed under the framework of a MoU in accordance with Turkey’s status of forces agreement (SOFA) with NATO.

Cheap for Turkey principle

A principle of “cheap for Turkey, expensive for supplier country” will be implemented to cover the costs, such as the transportation of the systems within Turkey, and logistics such as food, a NATO source earlier told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The cost for the deployment of the Patriot missiles and soldiers will be 42 million euros for the Netherlands and 25 million euros for Germany.

The parties have also been holding talks on details of the rules of engagement for the Patriots, although the majority of the rules are already pre-set by NATO in its guidelines on “Operation Active Fence” against purported threats.

“This mission is purely defensive,” said Polish Army Lieut. Col. Dariusz Kacperczyk, NATO spokesman for the Patriot deployment. “It is to deter any possible threat coming from missiles to the Turkish population and territory.”

The U.S. is set to transport some 400 troops to Turkey to operate two Patriot batteries. Additional equipment will arrive by sea later in January, the Stuttgart-based U.S. European Command said in a statement Jan. 4.

A Dutch military unit comprised of 270 soldiers will operate their Patriots, while Germany sent 240 soldiers.

January/22/2013

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