Turkey has said it trusts on promise of NATO member states on keeping its intelligence within the alliance and not sharing it with Israel, Turkey’s new foe.
Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told reporters following NATO’s Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels that one should trust on NATO member states’ pledge that they won’t use the intelligence they gather from NATO’s early warning radar system in the southeast of the country that will serve as part of the alliance’s missile defense system.
Yılmaz also warned that this intelligence cannot be used outside NATO member states, referring to Israel.
Turkish-Israeli relations badly damaged after Israeli naval commandos stormed Mavi Marmara ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza to breach the naval blockade, killing nine Turkish civilians. Turkey demands official apology, compensation to families of the victims and lifting Gaza blockade. Israel claims its soldiers acted in self-defense.
Last year, Turkey’s leaders also repeatedly asked NATO during the alliance summit in Lisbon not to share intelligence it gets from radar systems with Israel.
Turkey agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO’s missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran. Ankara claims the shield doesn’t target a specific country and had threatened to block the deal if Iran was explicitly named as a threat.
A military installation in Kürecik has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials. Kürecik in Malatya province lies some 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of the Iranian border.
In September, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the United States hopes to have the radar deployed there by the end of the year.
Yılmaz stressed that the primary reason for NATO’s early warning radar system is to maintain the security of Europe. Yılmaz also added that by the radar system, Turkey is also protecting itself.
Yılmaz said no one has a right to object a project which is only for defense purposes and said no any NATO state member should tell “no” when asked to protect other member states.
Yılmaz said he had a chance to have talks with his British, Canadian, Australian and Afghan counterparts and said all of them stressed Turkey’s increasingly influence in the region and asked for more cooperation.
06 October 2011, Thursday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,