NATO summit statement vows to protect Turkey's southern border against threats

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published

NATO vows to protect Turkey's southern border against threats, a statement released late Wednesday after a summit in Belgium's Brussels said.

The statement also reiterated that NATO is in strong cooperation with Turkey against terror.

"We remain concerned that Turkey has been hit three times in the last four years by missiles launched from Syria. We continue to monitor and assess the ballistic missile threat from Syria," the NATO declaration said.

Pointing to Syria's inventory of short-range ballistic missiles, the declaration said the range of these missiles "covers part of NATO's territory and some of our partners' territories."

It also drew attention that the Syrian regime had used these missiles extensively against its own population.

"The increasing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles in the vicinity of the south-east border of the Alliance has been and remains a driver in NATO's development and deployment of a ballistic missile defense system, which is configured to counter threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area," it added.

NATO also vowed to provide Turkey with "tailored assurance measures" aimed at guaranteeing alliance's security

"Tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole, and will be fully implemented," the declaration said.

"We have increased the strength of the NATO Response Force, and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is ready to deploy on short notice," it added.

Since 2014, NATO has implemented Assurance Measures (AM) that comprise a series of land, sea and air activities in, on and around the eastern part of Alliance territory.

In late 2015, NATO allies agreed on a package of Tailored Assurance Measures for Turkey (TAMT) to respond to the increasing security challenges on Turkey's borders.

These measures include additional AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) surveillance aircraft presence in the region; increased maritime activities in the Eastern Mediterranean; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities and information sharing.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended a meeting of NATO heads of state and government Wednesday where he discussed Turkey's counterterrorism efforts with the allied countries and held bilateral meetings with several leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a brief conversation at the corridor of the headquarters, where Erdoğan and Trump encountered each other, the two had a candid greeting. French President Emmanuel Macron also joined in the conversation. The U.S. President reportedly called Erdoğan a "winner," in reference to his victory in the June 24 presidential elections with 52.6 percent of the votes.

On Wednesday, Erdoğan delivered a brief speech after the first session, saying that member states should cooperate more in international security and the fight against terrorism. He added that the bloc should not discriminate in its fight against terrorist groups and member states should show full solidarity.

On the second day of the summit, Erdoğan had a trilateral meeting with the Bosnia member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia Bakir Izetbegovic and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. He also met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also attended the meetings.

Erdoğan also congratulated Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic over the national team's win against England in the World Cup semifinal on Wednesday night and wished good luck for the final against France Sunday. Kitarovic also congratulated Erdoğan on his election victory.

During the summit, an agreement is expected to be reached regarding the Turkish military providing training in Iraq. As part of NATO's military training project in Iraq, military schools and academies will be built. Turkish military authorities will train the Iraqi army on how to put forward effective combat strategies against the PKK and Daesh terrorists.

Stoltenberg was quoted by Doğan News Agency on Monday as saying that Turkey is also preparing to take on a new, bigger role in the transatlantic alliance with a task to command the Very High Readiness Joint Force (VJFT) in 2021 along with France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the U.K.

NATO was formed in 1949 to counter the threat of postwar communist expansion as the Soviet Union sought to extend its influence in Europe. The aim is to keep Europe safe by deterrence, a cornerstone of which is the U.S. permanent commitment to protect the continent's security.

Here are the remaining main points:

Mutual defense clause reaffirmed

"Any attack against one Ally will be regarded as an attack against us all, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. We will continue to stand together and act together, on the basis of solidarity, shared purpose, and fair burden-sharing."

Defense spending

"We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defense Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024, planned capabilities, and contributions."

Russia

"We continue to respond to the deteriorated security environment by enhancing our deterrence and defense posture, including by a forward presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. We have also suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia, while remaining open to political dialogue. NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia."

Ukraine

"We strongly condemn Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognize."

Terrorism

"[We] will continue to improve our capabilities and technologies, including to defend against improvised explosive devices and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats, and to counter terrorist misuse of technology."

Launching NATO readiness initiative

"It will ensure that more high-quality, combat-capable national forces at high readiness can be made available to NATO. From within the overall pool of forces, Allies will offer an additional 30 major naval combatants, 30 heavy or medium maneuver battalions, and 30 kinetic air squadrons, with enabling forces, at 30 days' readiness or less."

Space

"Recognizing that space is a highly dynamic and rapidly evolving area, which is essential to a coherent Alliance deterrence and defense posture, we have agreed to develop an overarching NATO Space Policy."

Updated command structure

"We will establish a Cyberspace Operations Centre in Belgium to provide situational awareness and coordination of NATO operational activity within cyberspace, a Joint Force Command Norfolk headquarters in the United States to focus on protecting the transatlantic lines of communication, and a Joint Support and Enabling Command in Germany to ensure freedom of operation and sustainment in the rear area in support of the rapid movement of troops and equipment into, across, and from Europe."

Iraq training mission

"We are launching a non-combat training and capacity building mission in Iraq, at the request of the Government of Iraq for additional support in its efforts to stabilize the country and fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

Opening accession talks with Macedonia

"In line with our policy, we have decided to invite the government in Skopje to begin accession talks to join our Alliance."

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