Ankara, Oct 9 () - Turkey is continuing talks with NATO and its bilateral partners to enhance its defense capabilities, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said Oct. 9, noting the discussions include Patriot missiles.
“The national capabilities of the country are sufficient for Turkey’s defense, but [we] are carrying out work with both NATO and bilateral allies to enhance our defense capability in the upcoming period,” he said at a press conference.
“We ask NATO to continue its visible presence” in Turkey, Bilgiç added.
The U.S. withdrew its Patriot missile units in Gaziantep on Sept. 30, while Germany’s batteries in Kahramanmaraş will be removed on Oct. 15, the spokesperson said. Spain’s batteries in Adana will remain in place until January 2016, he said, noting that Madrid had yet to make a decision to extend the mission of their batteries.
Bilgiç also said NATO had yet to decide on the Patriot mission in Turkey but that the issue is being reviewed due to Russia’s recent military sorties over Syria.
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül was in Brussels for a NATO defense ministers’ meeting during which the issue was on the agenda, the spokesperson said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance could grant a high readiness force to Turkey, but Bilgiç said that would require a NATO council decision.
Turkey “has not asked for the deployment of a high readiness force to Turkey at this stage” he added.
No Russian delegation in Ankara yet
Ankara has asked Moscow that Russian officials visit Turkey to provide information about violations, but no delegation has yet visited, according to Bilgiç.
Russia breached Turkish airspace on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, prompting Ankara to convey Turkey’s rules of engagement along the Syrian border when the Russian ambassador was summoned, the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said there was no difference in the rules of engagement for either Russian or Syrian planes.
“It’s hard to say there are differences at this stage” Bilgiç said.