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Turkey to approve missile system if principles met



Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, has been the
subject of discussions over a potential NATO missile-
defense system originally proposed by the United
States during the George W. Bush administration.


Turkey is hopeful it can find the diplomatic means to make support of NATO’s plans for a regional missile defense shield unanimous at an upcoming summit, but only if its principles are upheld, well-informed sources said Monday.

The Turkish position toward the missile defense system is based on two principles, namely that security be guaranteed for each and every NATO member state and that no country be listed as a specific threat, according to the sources.

Turkey, a member of NATO since 1952, has been the subject of discussions over a potential NATO missile-defense system originally proposed by the United States during the George W. Bush administration, although it is unclear if the country will actively participate in the proposed system, the fate of which will be decided at the alliance’s upcoming summit in Lisbon on Nov. 19-20.

The sources said the summit would focus on developing a defense shield that would protect NATO allies and their populations in the face of a threat posed by the global proliferation of ballistic missiles, adding that such a system would contribute to disarmament in the long run and lessen dependence on nuclear armament.

The sources, however, warned against any definition that suggested the proposed system was a star wars-like system. “These definitions are far from the reality,” according to the sources.

Turkey is actively participating in every stage of discussions within NATO, according to the same sources.

Question of Iranian threat

In verbal rhetoric, the U.S. administration has said the missile system will provide protection against Iran. Turkey, however, objects to any country being cited as a threat.

“That should not be interpreted as Turkey showing privileged treatment to Iran. It could be Georgia or Russia. What matters is the validity of the principles and the alliance’s capacity-building potential in the face of a threat posed by proliferation of ballistic missiles,” the sources said.

“Not only Iran, but 30 other countries also have that ballistic capability. It is not possible for Turkey to accept a view that lacks any ground. Our alliance with NATO is one case, our neighborly relationship with bordering countries is another. They do not contradict one another and, to the contrary, they complement each other,” the sources said.

Sources said it was not true that Turkey was left alone in adopting the principles. “An underestimated number of countries are supporting the principles. One or two countries are insistent about the name while the others have a closer approach to us.”

At the Lisbon summit, a political framework will be submitted for the approval of NATO heads of state and government, while the technical negotiations are expected to continue regarding the deployment of the defense systems.

Well-informed sources said no reference was made to Turkey in any document regarding the deployment of the system on the Turkish territory.

“The political decision that will be made at the Lisbon summit will constitute a basis for other phases of the system. We should first focus on Lisbon,” said the sources.

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