Turkey reportedly to ok NATO missile plan with conditions
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 yesterday. The Turkish position toward the missile defense system is based on two principles: that security be guaranteed for each and every NATO member state, and that no country be listed as a specific threat. Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has been the subject of discussions over a potential NATO missile-defense system originally proposed by the US during the last Bush administration, although it is unclear if the country will actively participate in the proposed system, whose fate will be decided at next week's NATO summit in Lisbon. 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 warned, however, against any definition that suggested the proposed system was a "Star Wars"-like system. Turkey is actively participating in every stage of discussions within NATO, according to the same sources. In verbal rhetoric, the US 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," said one source. "Not only Iran, but 30 other countries also have that ballistic capability … Our alliance with NATO is one thing, our neighborly relationship with bordering countries is another. They don't contradict one another but, on the contrary, complement each other," the source added, saying that other countries support Turkey's approach. At the Lisbon summit, a political framework will be submitted for the approval of NATO heads of state and government, while technical negotiations are expected to continue regarding the deployment of the defense system. Sources said no reference was made to Turkey in any document regarding the deployment of the system on Turkish territory.