World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik asked NATO to end its counter-migration mission in the Aegean Sea on Thursday.
Speaking to the media after attending a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels, Isik said: "We have officially informed NATO our perspective on the termination of this NATO activity until the end of this year.
"This was a temporary mission, and the goal has been reached in this temporary mission. There is no need to extend it further. Whether this NATO force is here or not, we will continue our battle against this migrant movement.
"For us, there is no need for NATO to keep forces in the Aegean anymore."
The defense minister added the sharp decline in the number of crossings of asylum seekers in the Aegean was because of the successful patrolling of Turkish Coast Guard Command, not due to NATO.
However, hours after Isik's remarks, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference the alliance had decided to continue with its operation in the Aegean.
Stoltenberg said NATO's deployments to Turkey and Greece as part of its Aegean operation helped prevent human trafficking.
“That is why last night we decided to continue our Aegean deployment,” the NATO chief said.
Turkey and the EU signed a deal this March aiming to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.Last Mod: 27 Ekim 2016, 19:48