Turkey seek to NATO consensus on missile defense
Turkey will approve a plan for NATO's possession of a missile-defense system only if it is convinced that there is a concrete threat against all NATO members or at least a perceived threat, officials said yesterday. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy James Townsend told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday that Turkey has played a very helpful role in sorting out issues related to missile deployment. The issue will be decided as defense and foreign ministers from NATO member nations are set to gather in Brussels today to discuss a proposed update to the military alliance's strategic concept, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday. "We will assess together what can be done to agree on a common strategy within the alliance system," he added, noting that he will also attend the Brussels meeting. Townsend, speaking at a panel at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, said Turkish policymakers would probably take a great deal of time to decide about hosting a missile defense system. At the Brussels meeting and NATO's Lisbon summit next month, Turkey will have to face at least two issues, Townsend said: its vote on NATO's missile defense capability in Turkey, and what role it wants to play in this. He said Turkey's decision will have a large domestic impact, and that Turks are thinking very hard about this. Townsend said what the US is seeing in Turkey is not ambivalence and reluctance, but an attempt to balance what it knows is important for European, transatlantic and Turkish security and how this fits in with Turkey's political calculations in the region.