Baku-APA. Dutch Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert stated that the Netherlands bears the expense of the Patriots to be deployed on Turkey's border with Syria, as well as the expenses of the soldiers, which have exceeded 40 million euros so far.
“Whoever sends the troops or equipment is responsible for paying the costs,” said the minister, APA reports quoting Todays Zaman.
In an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman, Plasschaert said that Turkey was only responsible for meeting the basic logistical costs, namely “Host Nation Support."
“We are even paying for our own bread. Our only expectation is a warm welcome to our troops by Turkey,” said the minister.
The Patriot missile batteries will be deployed in Turkey as part of NATO's decision to support Turkey's air defense against a missile threat from Syria, where a vicious civil war has left at least 60,000 people dead.
Patriot anti-missile systems sent to Turkey upon the Ankara's request from NATO are already in the unloading process at the port of Ä°skenderun in the southern province of Hatay. Patriot missiles from the Netherlands arrived in Turkey on Monday, which Dutch troops unloaded on Tuesday morning to be sent to the NATO's Ä°ncirlik air base in the province of Adana.
When asked whether the claims stating the Netherlands has demanded that Turkey meet the costs of the Patriots were true, Plasschaert responded that the claims were untrue. “Turkey made a request to NATO and within NATO we have the duty of helping one another. We believe that if one day the Netherlands has a problem, and requests assistance from Turkey within the scope of cooperation between NATO member countries, Turkey would not refuse us,” said the minister.
Patriots for 'defense purposes' against Syria
Plasschaert stated that the deployment of Patriot missiles on Turkey's border with Syria is purely for defensive purposes, adding there was no intention to attack Syria.
Plasschaert dismissed the criticisms over the Patriot deployment. “The Netherlands has sent two Patriot batteries. Additionally, there are also other countries that participated in this mission. We have taken this step for defensive purposes in order to protect the Turkish people against possible missile attacks from Syria. With this mission, we have no intention to attack a country or to create a no-fly zone,” said the minister.
When asked whether Turkey had made any request for the establishment of no-fly zone, Plasschaert replied “no.” “Obviously, if Turkey had made such a request, we would not confirm this request. When Turkey stated that it needed these missiles for defensive purposes, we could not be indifferent as we attach importance to solidarity between allies,” said Plasschaert.
NATO Allied Land Commander Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges stated last November that it is impossible to use Patriot missiles to establish a no-fly zone or to make offensive attacks against threats. Additionally, the Turkish General Staff has also said the deployment of NATO Patriot missiles on the border was not aimed at establishing a no-fly zone over Syrian airspace.
“Turkey is our friend as well as our ally. Therefore, without even hesitating for a moment, I accepted their request which was based on righteous reasons,” said the minister. The Patriot missile batteries will be deployed in Turkey as part of NATO's decision to support Turkey's air defense against a missile threat from Syria.
When asked whether the recent reports that claim the Dutch troops were not trained well enough held a grain of truth, Plasschaert replied that such claims had no validity. “First of all, I believe that such rumors cause lack of confidence among our soldiers. Our soldiers have completed their training to the highest level,” said Plasschaert.
The minister also added that her country has decreased expenditure in the field of defense but this did not affect the quality of the soldiers' training.
A Dutch military unit comprising of 270 soldiers is responsible for putting the system in place on Jan. 26. According to NATO'S decision, the Dutch soldiers will stay in Turkey for one year.
“Sending untrained soldiers to Turkey would be to Turkey's disadvantage but it would also endanger our own troops. In short, these claims are nonsense,” said the minister.
'Turkey could contribute to Europe's security and defense policy '
Touching upon Turkey's EU accession process, Plasschaert, who served in the European Parliament previously, stated that it was an indisputable fact that Turkey could contribute to Europe's security and defense policy. “Not only in this issue. Turkey is a country that can contribute to EU in almost every issue,” said the minister.