TURKEY: No Missile Demand from Either US or NATO
31.08.2009 Business | NATO & SE Europe | Politics | Turkey
Neither NATO nor the United States has conveyed any request to Turkey for hosting anti-missile bases in its territory, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said over the weekend. Davutoğlu was speaking at a joint press conference on Saturday following talks with his Slovenian counterpart, Samuel Zbogar, during an official visit to Ljubljana, when reminded by reporters of a report published on Friday in The New York Times.
“The Obama administration has developed possible alternative plans for a missile defense shield that could drop hotly disputed sites in Poland and the Czech Republic,” the leading US daily said. “Among the alternatives are dropping either the Polish or Czech site, or both sites, and instead building launching pads or radar installations in Turkey or the Balkans, while developing land-based versions of the Aegis SM-3, a ship-based anti-missile system, [Obama administration] officials said,” the report also said.
The news report is not true, Davutoğlu first of all stated, the Anatolia news agency reported. Neither the US administration nor NATO has conveyed any request concerning the missile shield issue, the minister added.
Davutoğlu highlighted that “it was not possible [for him] to make any comment on a news report which has no relation with truth,” Anatolia said.
The New York Times, meanwhile, cited US administration officials cautioning that no decisions had been made and that all options were still under discussion, including retaining the Polish and Czech sites first selected by President George W. Bush.
“The Obama review team plans to present a menu of options rather than a single recommendation to a committee of senior national security officials in the coming weeks. Only after that would the matter go to cabinet-rank officials and the president,” the report said.
In Moscow, Alexander Lebedev, a former Russian ambassador to Turkey, suggested that bilateral relations between Ankara and Moscow would be harmed if the news reports about US plans for housing a missile defense shield in Turkish territory are authentic. If the United States places a missile defense shield in Turkey, Russia may respond to this, Lebedev continued, according to private Cihan news agency.
Yet, Lebedev's remarks contradicted those of by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, which were delivered in 2007 when he was president of the Russian Federation.
In June 2007, following a Group of Eight summit in northern Germany, Putin had said that missile defense interceptors could be located in Turkey or Iraq or on sea platforms instead of former East Bloc countries Czech Republic or Poland, if Washington wants to alleviate Moscow's concerns about US plans.
Source: Today's Zaman