Cabinet decides to deploy Patriot defence systems to Turkey
Patriot launching pad (file photo)
Following NATO’s decision to provide Turkey with Patriot defence systems, the German Cabinet agreed on 6 December to deploy German Patriot systems and soldiers to Turkey. The mission in Turkey is to be clearly defensive in nature. The draft mandate submitted by the Government still requires parliamentary approval from the Bundestag.
The Cabinet decision was jointly announced by Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Defence Minister de Maizière. It envisages the deployment of up to 400 Bundeswehr soldiers for a limited period ending on 31 January 2014. The deployment of German Patriot air defence systems is to be prepared and implemented in very close cooperation with the Netherlands and the USA. De Maizière stated that upon their arrival in Turkey, the systems and the personnel operating them would be under the control of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
Far from routine
Foreign Minister Westerwelle spoke of a “serious decision taken in a serious situation”. He added that “there is nothing routine about it, and so it is right and proper for us to ask the Bundestag to approve the deployment.” The Bundestag is expected to debate the mandate some time between 12 and 14 December.
At their meeting on 4 and 5 December the NATO Foreign Ministers gave the go ahead for the deployment of Patriot defence systems in Turkey at that country’s request. The objective is “to defend the population and territory of Turkey and contribute to the de escalation of the crisis along the Alliance’s border,” to quote the Foreign Ministers’ statement. The USA, the Netherlands and Germany are the only NATO countries to have the most advanced version of the Patriot missile defence system.
Westerwelle and de Maizière before the Cabinet meeting on 6 December
© dpa / picture alliance
Preventing the violence spreading
Turkey is more immediately affected by the violence in Syria than any other NATO ally. Foreign Minister Westerwelle recalled all those killed and wounded on Turkish territory by shelling from the Syrian side of the border. He found it “understandable and reasonable” that Turkey wished to defend itself in the circumstances. The decision was intended, he said, to stop the violence spreading. The risk was that it could spill over into Turkey, in particular.
Both Westerwelle and de Maizière reiterated that the deployment would be purely defensive in nature. “Our support for Turkey is clearly defensive in nature and is intended to serve as a military deterrent,” said de Maizière. Westerwelle expressly stated that it would in no way lay the groundwork for a no fly zone.
Last updated 06.12.2012