At the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting held in the Mediterranean province of Antalya last week, the allies agreed to enhance their NATO Response Force by creating a "spearhead force," known as the "Very High Readiness Joint Task Force" (VJTF). According to diplomatic sources, Turkey placed a bid to lead the taskforce in 2021 along with France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.K. In addition to the VJTF bid, Turkey announced that it is contributing nearly TL 2.5 million ($967,000) to the Defense Capacity Building (DCB) project.
While there are various claims of deteriorating relations between Turkey, NATO and the EU, sources have emphasized that the recently-held meeting in Antalya has dismissed these claims.
In response to developments and changes around the world, NATO has decided to reshape itself in an effort to efficiently and effectively respond to situations. Furthermore, foreign ministers from NATO countries decided that the alliance will maintain a presence in Afghanistan after the end of its current Resolute Support mission. Emphasizing the importance of allies building closer cooperation with partners and organizations, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said that such cooperation is necessary to better address the security challenges to the east and the south.With reference to Turkey's contribution to the DCB project, diplomatic sources have said that there are packages in the fund that are being prepared for all necessary countries such as Iraq. Commenting on Turkey's bid to head the VJTF, sources also explained that "the plan provides a comprehensive package of measures to respond to the changes in the security environment and in Europe, and also aims to respond to the challenges posed by Russia. It is also being prepared in efforts to counter threats emanating from the Middle East and North Africa."
NATO allies agreed that Warsaw will host the next meeting in 2016, which is perceived as a nod to the successful transformation of Poland over the past quarter century and Poland's political weight in NATO. Turkey has requested to host the following NATO summits after Warsaw. While Stoltenberg has numerously emphasized that "Turkey is a cornerstone," it is expected that NATO would provide the opportunity to Turkey to host another meeting.Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, the foreign ministers reconfirmed their full support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on Russia to cease its destabilization of eastern Ukraine with Stoltenberg calling for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement. At the special meeting held by the NATO Ukraine Commission, sources also said that Ukraine firmly underlined that it did not want the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as well as the EU.
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