NATO Defence Ministers visit Patriot deployment
The German, Dutch and Turkish defence ministers paid a joint visit to NATO Patriot batteries in Turkey on Saturday 23 February, in a signal of Alliance solidarity.<!IoRangePreExecute>
The Turkish defence minister Ismet Yilmaz thanked Allies for their support. ''We are very pleased at how quickly NATO responded to our request to reinforce our air defences. I personally want to thank my fellow Ministers from Germany and the Netherlands for their important contribution,'' Mr Yilmaz said.
The three defence ministers visited both the Dutch and German Patriot sites at Adana and Kahramanmaras during their two-day stay, and received an operational briefing from the Dutch and German Patriot commanders. They also met with local Turkish officials and officers.
The German defence minister Thomas de Maizière stressed the defensive nature of the deployment. ''The defensive nature of the mission is not only due to the NATO mandate, but also for technical reasons. The position and range of the Patriots makes it impossible to enforce a no-fly zone or attack Syria'', said Mr de Maizière. The Dutch defence minister Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert said the joint visit demonstrated the Alliance’s resolve and solidarity. ''The strong solidarity that exists in NATO is very evident here today. The Netherlands are ready and pleased to serve and help our fellow Ally Turkey,'' Ms Hennis-Plasschaert said.
The ministers travelled to Turkey immediately after attending a defence ministerial in Brussels at NATO headquarters on Friday. The visit comes after the last of the deployed batteries became operational under NATO command and control on 15 February. Germany, the Netherlands and the United States provide two batteries each to augment Turkey’s air defences. The systems are deployed in Kahramanmaras, Adana, and Gaziantep.