NATO chief to discuss next summit in Ankara

NATO chief to discuss next summit in Ankara

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
NATO chief to discuss next summit in Ankara

NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is visiting Turkey ahead of the next NATO summit in Chicago. AP photo

For the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Turkey’s accession to NATO, the alliance’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is visiting Turkey ahead of the next NATO summit.

“The agenda of the next NATO summit will be discussed in the talks,” a Turkish diplomat told Hürriyet Daily News. That summit will take place May 20-21 in Chicago, with the alliance’s role in Afghanistan expected to be among the key issues. NATO members have recently been discussing how to pay for Afghanistan’s security forces once they take over from NATO forces in 2014.

NATO also plans to declare the interim operational capability of a missile defense system, which NATO members agreed to at the previous Lisbon summit, to defend European territories against ballistic-missile threats. Turkey hosts a radar system in the Kürecik district of Malatya as part of the NATO anti-missile project. “The structure of command for the system will be on the agenda,” the Turkish diplomat said.

Chicago summit to discuss ‘Smart Defense’

The Chicago summit is also expected to discuss new ways for NATO members to prioritize, specialize and share multinational projects so that they can keep and improve their security capabilities, even in times of economic austerity – an approach known as “Smart Defense.” Some NATO members are urging the alliance to further cooperate with Israel, an idea which Turkey opposes due to rift between two countries after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2009, in which Israel raided a Turkish aid ship trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip. NATO said Feb. 11 that it was considering an Israeli offer to contribute a warship to the alliance’s naval patrol in the Mediterranean, despite Turkey’s opposition. NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said the alliance was prepared to enhance practical cooperation with all partner nations in the region, including Israel.

Turkey has not changed its position and still rejects the idea. Another Turkish official told the Daily News that NATO requires consensus to take such decisions. The issue is expected to be part of the agenda of Rasmussen’s talks in Ankara.

In the past, Israeli warships and Air Force jets joined some NATO exercises, but Israel’s participation in a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea has been rejected by Turkey since 2010.

The Secretary General will meet President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu today. He will also participate in a Joint Meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees of the Turkish Grand Assembly, and deliver an address at a conference organized by the Turkish Atlantic Council.