Turkey’s role in expanded NATO forces will be clear by June: Minister

Turkey’s role in expanded NATO forces will be clear by June: Minister

BRUSSELS – Anadolu Agency
Turkey’s role in expanded NATO forces will be clear by June: Minister

'Turkey’s contribution will be clear by June,' Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said. AA Photo

Turkey’s role in the recently reinforced NATO response forces would become clear by June, said the country’s defense minister, after the alliance agreed to beef up security measures amid challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists.

NATO defense ministers agreed on Feb. 5 to more than double the size of the alliance’s Response Force and create a new quick-reaction force of 5,000 troops to meet challenges from regional threats.

“Turkey’s contribution will be clear by June,” Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told state-run Anadolu Agency on Feb. 6, speaking after the meeting.

“There are points that need to be clarified, like which host countries will undertake how much of the costs and how much will be financed by NATO funds. Turkey will do what falls to it after these are straightened out,” he stated.

The minister also asserted the new force is aimed at bolstering defense and said he sees no reason for Russia to be concerned.

Yılmaz suggested threat perception is “one-sided,” as Baltic and Eastern European countries feel threatened by Russia “due to past experiences,” leading them to make demands from NATO.  

However, many countries, including Turkey, expressed their opinion that “threats should not be differentiated, and it is not right to set-up regional forces by looking at these threats,” he stressed.

EU ‘fails to defend region’

The Turkish minister also criticized the European Union for failing to maintain security in the region, while praising NATO.

“NATO is successful as a security-maintaining institution, but we cannot say the same thing for the EU,” he said.

Therefore, the cooperation between the two should be reinforced, according to the minister, who urged the bloc to also include non-member countries into defense decision-making bodies to “maintain peace and stability in Europe.”

With East-West tensions running at their highest since the Cold War era, NATO has made clear it will not intervene in Ukraine but will bolster the defenses of nervous eastern allies who were under Moscow’s domination for some four decades before 1989.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the measures, part of the alliance’s response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, amounted to “the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense” since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago.