Turkey a priority for nominee to lead US forces in Europe

Gen. Scaparrotti says he would closely engage Turkey to overcome its challenges

Turkey a priority for nominee to lead US forces in Europe

World Bulletin / News Desk

U.S. President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. forces in Europe said Thursday that one of his priorities would be to deal with challenges facing Turkey.   

“You have an aggressive Russia that they've [Turks] encountered the escalation personally; counterterrorism; the ISIL [ISIL] threat; Syria and the refugee challenge,” Army Gen. Kurtiz Scaparrotti told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing on his nomination.

“It's important that they [Turkey] work hard to secure their borders; that they take part in the security operations that are ongoing to reduce the refugee flow,” he said. “If confirmed, I will obviously make it one of my priorities to understand their challenges and what we can do to better help them in that regard.”

The general also said that if confirmed, he would build a close relationship with Turkish military and political leadership, noting the differences between Ankara and Washington with respect to their priorities in counterterrorism.

Turkey is fighting the PKK terrorist group on its borders as well as in Iraq, while at the same time fighting ISIL alongside a U.S.-led coalition. But Ankara has been underlining that all terror groups should be treated the same, criticizing U.S. prioritizing the ISIL war over the fight against the PKK and its offshoots.  

“Both of us have to realize our interests and then find areas that commonly we can work together,” Scaparrotti said.

He also told lawmakers that the U.S. should permanently station troops in Eastern Europe to build stronger relationships with its allies in the region at the face of Russian activities.

Noting Russia as “one of the greatest existential threats” to the U.S. he said: "A permanent brigade gives you a brigade that establishes relationships with the supporting elements of all forces from the United States as well as a more permanent relationship and long-lasting relationship with all of our allies.” 

He added that he would request a permanent brigade, around 3,000 troops, to be stationed on the European continent.
"In my opinion, positioning an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean would send a strategic message not only to the Russians but also to ISIS [ISIL], and Iran and its proxies," the general added.

He also noted that the U.S. military should make Russia know that American forces would take military action if Russian aircraft continue to provoke U.S. military assets in the Baltic Sea, responding to a question about Russian jets flying by a U.S. destroyer earlier this month.

A Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, said the U.S. does not feel any imminent risk of military conflict with Russia but the commanders on the ground and on board have “an inherent authority to take action” for self-defense.

“We want Russia to act in a way that would not lead our commanders to a miscalculation,” Davis said, noting that Washington has conveyed concerns in that regards to Moscow.

Scaparrotti, if confirmed, will replace Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove who has been at the helm of NATO forces in Europe for two years.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Nisan 2016, 09:21