World Bulletin / News Desk
NATO has not received any request for assistance from Turkey regarding events in Iraq but added that NATO would not "hesitate" to protect its allies including Turkey, NATO Secretary General told Anadolu Agency in London on Thursday.
Rasmussen who met Turkish officials in capital Ankara earlier this week, was speaking at London-based think tank, Chatham House on Thursday and said, "I strongly condemn the violence we have seen in Iraq, the horrendous attacks we have seen including the hostage taking from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, and we call for the immediate release of the hostages."
ISIL rebels abducted 31 Turkish truck drivers and 49 Turkish Consulate staff including the consul general and family members last week from Iraq's second largest city, Mosul.
Rasmussen was ambiguous about the possibility of NATO intervening in Iraq, "As it is now publicly known, the Iraqi government has requested at least from one of its allies some military assistance. I am not going to interfere with that, that's a national decision." He explained that NATO is focused on providing effective defence protection for all allies, and he discussed this on his visit to Ankara last Monday.
"But whatever might be the decision by individual allies, when its come to military assistance to the Iraqi goverment, I have to say that any assistance would only be effective if it is combined with political efforts in Iraq to ensure a much more inclusive government then we have seen in the past."
He said that one of the reasons for the sectarian violence in Iraq is because the government has not had inclusive policies, and he urged Iraqi authorities to ensure a more inclusive government as soon as possible. He added that lessons had been learned from Iraq and added that, "Let me remind you, it was an Iraqi decision not to sign the necessary legal framework to continue with the presence of trainers for Iraqi security forces."
ISIL, which already controls parts of Syria, has extended its reach into Iraq since June 10, when it seized Iraq's second-largest city Mosul and soon afterwards took near-complete control of the northern city of Tikrit.
Iraq has seen a marked increase in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims in recent months, which the Iraqi government blames on ISIL.
Rasmussen also addressed the siutation in Ukraine whilst speaking in London, "We now see a new Russian military build up along the Ukrainian border. I consider this a very regrettable step backwards and it seems Russia keeps the option open to intervene further in to Ukraine."
He said that if Russia intervened in Ukraine, a response would be required, "I do believe that the international community will have to respond in a firm manner if Russia intervened further in Ukraine and that would imply more economic sanctions against Russia, which would have a damaging effect to the Russian economy."
The NATO secretary general also said that for better EU relations, the issue of Cyprus would need to be addressed, " I think the key to reach the full potential of NATO-EU cooperation would be to solve the Cyprus dispute."
Cyprus has remained divided into Greek and Turkish parts since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north in 1974.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized solely by Turkey, whereas the Greek Cypriot administration is an EU member and recognized internationally.Last Mod: 19 Haziran 2014, 18:01