AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Wednesday 21 November 2012
Last update 21 November 2012 11:38 pm
BRUSSELS: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday the alliance would consider “without delay” a request from member Turkey for a deployment of surface-to-air Patriot missiles to protect its troubled border with Syria.
“I have received a letter from the Turkish government requesting the deployment of Patriot missiles,” he said in a statement.
“Such a deployment would augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey. It would contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO’s south-eastern border.
“And it would be a concrete demonstration of alliance solidarity and resolve,” the statement said. “Nato will discuss the Turkish request without delay.”
Diplomatic sources told AFP that NATO ambassadors meeting later yesterday would likely approve the Turkish request while Rasmussen said a team would visit Turkey as early as next week to conduct a site-survey for the possible deployment of Patriots.
“The security of the alliance is indivisible,” Rasmussen said.
“NATO is fully committed to deterring against any threats and defending Turkey’s territorial integrity,” he said.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Ankara on Tuesday that the surface-to-air missiles were “a precautionary measure, for defense in particular.”
Originally used as an anti-aircraft missile, Patriots today are used to defend airspace by detecting and destroying incoming missiles and were made famous during the 1991 Gulf War.
Germany and The Netherlands are the two main European nations that possess the medium-range missiles made by US group Raytheon and Rasmussen said it was up to “individual NATO countries that have available Patriots... to decide if they can provide them for deployment in Turkey and for how long.”
Rasmussen said there was currently no question of imposing a no-fly zone with the back-up of the Patriot missiles.