Turkey's CHP calls NATO radar 'shield for Israel', plans protests

The newest controversy over the site is just one chapter in a now lengthy debate, throughout which Erdoğan has sought to assuage fears over NATO plans at home while negotiating terms for the radar abroad.

Turkey's CHP calls NATO radar 'shield for Israel', plans protests

Calling the plans for a radar in the Kürecik district of Malatya province a "shield for Israel," CHP leaders are planning to hold protests throughout the country this week in an attempt to raise controversy over the government's recent agreement with NATO.

The CHP's opposition to the plan has been spearheaded by the stiff words of CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who has accused the prime minister of kowtowing to NATO and signing a deal that would share the radar's strategic data with Israel. Kılıçdaroğlu recently promised protests throughout 81 provinces and vowed support for a referendum on the issue through the party's Kürecik chapter.

A long debate, at home and abroad

The newest controversy over the site is just one chapter in a now lengthy debate, throughout which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sought to assuage fears over NATO plans at home while negotiating terms for the radar abroad.

Erdoğan has faced particularity strong criticism from Kılıçdaroğlu, who in a press conference stated, "The intelligence that the radar will provide will be used for Israel's defense." Elaborating on his belief that information sharing was part of the agreement, he asked rhetorically, "Who is saying this? American officials themselves."

Erdoğan, meanwhile, has repeatedly dismissed claims that the radar system is being deployed to protect Israel, reminding the public that Israel is not a NATO member country. At a press conference in Washington, he referred to "an announcement the Pentagon made to reporters, (in which) it was said that this radar will give information to Israel." Erdoğan asserted that both sides had agreed that information sharing would not occur, saying that the Americans have "corrected this and made announcements in connection to it."

Kılıçdaroğlu has also criticized the government for supposedly stepping in line with NATO orders without substantial debate. "This is not a two sided agreement," the chairman said as he answered questions from reporters. "This is entirely oriented towards NATO, this is a NATO program. The agreement was not made a subject of negotiation with Turkey."

Against CHP criticism, Erdoğan has replied that the agreement is the result of a long and politically charged debate between Turkey and its alliance partners. Turkey initially rejected the terms for the radar agreement when it was proposed last year, stating that the agreement had to be subject to further changes. At the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, it succeeded in removing a statement in the treaty that labeled Iran as a potential threat to the alliance. Turkey objected to any wording that labeled its neighbor as a threat, wording which Erdoğan called the "old mentality."

Controversy over Kürecik

Amidst a nationally escalating campaign to resist the proposal, the CHP has also been busy rallying the residents of Kürecik. Head of the CHP Malatya branch Veli Ağbaba has denounced the agreement and demanded that the radar plan be put up for referendum. On Wednesday, Ağbaba raised further alarm bells by stating that the site might make the community a target for missiles and could even expose residents to heightened cancer risk.

NATO has long viewed the radar installation as crucial to expanding its defense strategy in Eastern Europe. According to the NATO plan, missile interceptors in Romania and Poland combined with the radar in Turkey will create a broad system of protection for every NATO country against mid-range missile attacks.

Cihan

Last Mod: 21 Eylül 2011, 17:27
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