New Turkish officers to replace sacked putschists, says NATO chief
by Mehmet Solmaz
BrusselsOct 27, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Mehmet Solmaz
Oct 27, 2016 12:00 am
Prior to the two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels that started yesterday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, "Of course Turkey has the right to prosecute the perpetrators; those behind the failed coup attempt in July."
Commenting on the dismissal of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ)-affiliated military personnel at NATO, Stoltenberg said he is certain that Turkey will continue to be able to provide officers to NATO headquarters. "We are in close dialogue with Turkey on this, and that's also one of the issues I expect to discuss with my Turkish interlocutors when I travel to Turkey later on this fall," he added during his press conference on Tuesday.
Pointing out that he held meetings with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and many other political leaders when he visited Ankara in August, the NATO chief said he would visit Turkey again in November.
During his time in Ankara, Stoltenberg visited Parliament, which was bombed by members of FETÖ during the July 15 failed coup attempt. "It was extremely touching to see these ruins. At the same time, it was very impressive for me to see the faith in democracy shown by the Turkish people," he said, adding that the coup attempt "was not only against Turkish democracy but also targeted NATO allies and the very heart of NATO values."
Wednesday's ministerial meeting came when a helicopter belonging to the Assad regime dropped barrel bombs on Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in northern Syria on Tuesday, killing two and wounding five. The Assad regime last week said it would bring down any Turkish war planes entering Syrian air space, a response to air strikes carried out by Turkey in northern Syria. Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24. The operation aimed to bolster border security, support coalition forces, and eliminate the threat posed by terror organizations, especially Daesh. During his visit to Turkey in August, Stoltenberg gave NATO backing to the Euphrates Shield Operation. "We welcome Turkey's increasing efforts to fight against Daesh. Turkey has a right to defend itself. There have been many terrorist attacks coming from the Syrian side," Stoltenberg said. "We must train local forces in Syria to fight terrorism and ensure stability in the county," he added, drawing attention to Turkey training locals in northern Syria to drive Daesh from Turkey's southern borders.
Moreover, Stoltenberg said from early 2017, NATO will have four multinational battalions in the eastern part of the alliance. "This is credible deterrence. Not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent conflict. Concrete proof that NATO can and will deploy thousands of forces to support our allies. And a clear demonstration of our transatlantic bond," he said. The defense ministers meeting will also take forward plans to strengthen NATO's presence in the Black Sea region, he said. "We will assess the infrastructure we need in allied countries to enable rapid movement of our forces in Europe. And we will assess the growing role of cyber defense in our operations. Our second session will be devoted to projecting stability in our wider neighborhood because when our neighbors are more stable, we are more secure. As part of this effort, NATO is stepping up in the fight against ISIL [Daesh]," he added.
Defense ministers from Turkey, the U.S. and France held a trilateral meeting yesterday discussing the recent regional developments and fight against the Daesh terrorist organization. The ministers met on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels.
Işık said that Turkey is pleased to be included in the Mosul operation. "Our fighter jets are ready. There is no obstacle for the Turkish air force to join the Mosul Operation," Işık said and added that the Shiite milita group Hashd al-Shaabi should not be included in any phase of the operation.