Turkey hosts NATO naval exercises amid tensions
MARMARİS - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoTurkey on Sept. 20 was preparing to wind up naval exercises with fellow NATO members being held at a time of a crisis in relations with several alliance states and controversy over Ankara’s plan to purchase weapons from Russia.
The NATO exercises, focused on submarine rescue operations and called “Dynamic Monarch,” were taking place in Turkish waters in the Mediterranean Sea off the resort city of Marmaris and involved 1,000 personnel and nine countries including France, Britain and the United States.
The drill, the first in Turkey since 2000, is aimed at demonstrating multinational submarine rescue cooperation and interoperability. But its hosting by Turkey is also a symbol of Ankara’s importance within the alliance during a tense period.
“I would just recognize that the Turkish navy have consistently continued to be one of the greatest supporters of my command,” said the head of the NATO maritime force, Vice Admiral Clive Johnstone.
“Turkey is essential for the security of Europe. It has NATO’s second largest army and makes an important contribution to the alliance including our missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Aegean Sea,” said a NATO official, who asked not to be named.
The maneuvers came underway earlier this month and the press were permitted to witness the drill on Sept. 20, with the operation due to wrap up on Sept. 22.
Turkey is one of NATO’s key members, having joined in 1952.