Turkey extends troop deployment in Lebanon’s UN force
ANKARAThe Turkish parliament on July 17 approved a motion to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in Lebanon for another year as part of the United Nation’s interim force.
The term of Turkish soldiers in the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, also known as UNIFIL, was extended from Sept. 5 to Oct. 31, 2018.
The extension has been granted 10 times so far since it was first approved by parliament in September 2006.
Speaking in parliament, Defense Minister Fikri Işık said Lebanon is a small country in terms of its geography. “However, it has key importance with regards to stability of the region,” he said.
“A state of chaos that has been created by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] in Iraq and Syria recently, the developments in Yemen and Libya, and other regional tensions could negatively affect Lebanon’s peace, tranquility and stability,” he said.
UNIFIL was established in 1978 when Israel withdrew from Lebanon. The peacekeeping force is intended to provide security and help the Lebanese government rebuild its authority.
Around 10,600 troops from 40 countries are part of the UNIFIL mission.
The parliament also ratified the motion calling for extending the deployment of Turkish troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali as part of a U.N.-approved EU peacekeeping mission.
The extensions will be effective during the period between Aug. 2 and Sep. 31, 2018.
Işık said the extensions reflected the strategic priorities of Turkey in accordance with realities of the 21st century.
He said Turkey would continue to contribute troops for the sake of resolving humanitarian and political crises in Africa.
Işık also mentioned the talks over the Cyprus issue recently held in Switzerland.
“Turkey has taken a position in favor of solution, not on the side of concession,” he said.
“Turkey will proceed on its path without compromising the national interest of the Turkish Republic of Cyprus,” the minister said.
The talks to reunify the island of Cyprus ended in failure last week.
Representatives from the EU, the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaderships, and the guarantor nations of Turkey, Greece and the U.K., participated in the discussions that began at the end of last month to resolve the dispute.