Turkey set to join NATO task force: Stoltenberg

NATO created the VJTF during the 2014 Wales Summit as a "spearhead force" within the NATO Response Forces against "risks and threats" that might arise in Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa
Thursday, 19 April 2018 03:49

Stating that "Ankara was a key partner for the deterrent policies against the Soviet Union during the Cold War," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey would be responsible for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). 

NATO created the VJTF during the 2014 Wales Summit in the United Kingdom as a "spearhead force" within the NATO Response Forces against risks and "threats" that might arise in Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

"This is a part of our adaptation to more uncertain and unpredictable situations," Stoltenberg said. 

The VJTF is planned to have 5 battalions supported by air forces, naval forces and Special Forces composing of a multinational unity of 5,000 troops. The NATO authorities project that the VJTF would be supported by two additional regiments that will act as a quick reinforcement unit in the case of major crises. When the VJTF has become effective, it will serve as a deterrent force against possible threats immediately after the initial warnings or indications before the crisis began.

On April 16, Stoltenberg met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also met with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli separately.

He was in the capital Ankara for official talks in the wake of United States-led airstrikes targeting Syria. Erdoğan on Saturday welcomed imperialist powers strikes on Syria, saying that the operation sent a message to Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. 

French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that the strikes against Syria had succeeded in engineering a split in the Russia-Turkey alliance. However, Moskow and Ankara dismissed the claim, saying "It's not a secret that their positions differ on a number of issues."

Moreover, the United States intends to encourage Turkish AKP government to become more actively involved in the Geneva peace process for Syria, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Wess Mitchell, said on April 18. 


Stating that NATO and Turkey contribute each other in many fields, Stoltenberg gave certain examples of such contribution, indicating the presence of Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS), which is the surveillance and control center for air defense in Turkey’s central Anatolian province of Konya, frequent visits of NATO warships to the Turkish ports and their manoeuvers as well as intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance activities.

Reminding that the air defense batteries sent from Italy and Spain have been deployed in Turkey, Stoltenberg stated, "This anti-aircraft warfare equipment is a significant contribution to Turkey. In addition, the NATO has been providing certain supports to Turkey for years. We have made infrastructural investments for Turkey worth to billions of dollars such as the establishment of radar systems, military airfield and communications systems."

Turkey and Russia have agreed to bring forward to July 2019 the delivery of S-400 air defence missile systems to Ankara.

On March 17, a group of US lawmakers, led by Senator Bob Menendez, told the State Department that any sale of Russian S-400 air defense systems — including to Turkey — should lead to punitive measures under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Turkey could face US sanctions if it goes ahead with plans to purchase S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, and it can also affect Ankara’s participation in the F-35 program, U.S. diplomat Mitchell told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.