NATO has reminded Turkey of its alliance commitments over its decision to purchase Chinese anti-missile system, particularly emphasizing the impossibility of integrating it with the NATO defense system.
The message was delivered to Turkey at a routine meeting of the permanent representatives at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, accompanied by a public statement from NATO Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The Turkish government’s decision to start negotiations with a Chinese firm for the co-production of the $3.4 billion missile defense system has triggered serious concerns at NATO and among member countries, particularly in the United States. Along with Rasmussen, U.S. officials voiced their concerns and made clear their expectation that Turkey would not to sign the deal with a non-NATO country. The fact that the Chinese company, China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp’s (CPMIEC), is under U.S. sanctions also complicates the situation.
The issue was brought to the agenda of NATO last week, days after the Turkish procurement agency, the Undersecretariat of Defense Industries (SSM) announced the results of the tender. During a routine meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), an ambassador of a member country raised the issue and wanted a clarification on news reports from Turkey’s Ambassador Fatih Ceylan, who was recently appointed to Brussels, the Hürriyet Daily News learned from diplomatic sources.
The Daily News learned that Ceylan briefed ambassadors about the government’s decision, but also underlined that it was not final. He also reportedly explained to member countries that talks with other contenders were continuing, without giving further details. Turkey’s officials said they favored the Chinese offer because it allowed a technology transfer and provided the cheapest offer, comparing French-Italian Eurosam or American Raytheon companies. Ceylan was not available for comment on Thursday.
Following Ceylan’s briefing, Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow took the floor and recalled that all allied countries had given certain commitments for the collective defense system and hinted at the alliance’s desire to see Turkey’s compliance with these commitments, the Daily News learned.
Although it is any member country’s own decision whether to sign arms deals with non-NATO countries, compatibility and inter-operability with NATO systems should also be regarded as an important criteria, he maintained. /HurriyetDailynews/