Mercan: "NATO needs Turkey's soft power to keep the trust"
As high-level officials, security analysts and defense experts gathered at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada to discuss such issues as NATO's future, a Turkish official said on Saturday that if NATO wants to stay resilient and be a trustworthy defense agent, it needs to benefit from Turkey's soft power. "Turkey is using its soft power to address regional problems. Turkey's new initiatives should be an integral part of NATO's new strategic concept so as to approach security issues in ways outside conventional methods," Murat Mercan, who heads Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told a panel discussion. Mercan also touted Turkey's success in its mission in Afghanistan, where it has contributed troops since 2001 and commanded NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) twice, in 2002 and 2005, and also NATO's Kabul Regional Command mission for most of 2007. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Canadian Defense Minister Peter Mackay said, "Situated in a challenging neighborhood, Turkey has a wealth of experience to bring to NATO, as it has the ability to reach out to Tehran and speak to the Muslim world." He added, "Turkey has very good credibility and connectivity to the West but also the ability to reach out to Tehran and speak to the Muslim world with clarity and perspective that we could gain from."