The nerves of the NATO Allies must be jumping around like crazy at this moment in Brussels, where the Military Committee is trying to conclude the operational plan for the deployment of a small naval force in the Eastern Aegean Sea to stem the refugees and migrants flow to Europe.
Until late in the evening, Ankara.. – but No! Not Ankara -, the Turkish General Stab insists that the NATO Force operates only on international waters and not in Turkish territorial waters.
As the Committee members were preparing the draft, Turkey advised the NATO to not get involved in disputes between Greece and Turkey and suggested that the NAOT ships operate only in international waters.
Too bad, that in some sea areas between the Greek island and the Turkish coast there is no zone for international waters. The borderline is shared directly from Greece and Turkey.
In order to overcome the Turkish hurdle, and “solve” the issue on lower decisions level, there was suggestion that “the areas of operation of the NATO SNMG2 force to be determined by the commander holding the rotating leadership.” Currently it is Germany that holds the rotating leadership.
But the German Commander who was invited to informally attend the meetings, as he is the one to implement the decisions.
the proposal was reportedly tabled it to Turkey more or less in a “take it or leave it” mood.
As I write this post, Turkey has not responded so far, thus leaving the NATO have another deadline expired.
German Defense Minister said earlier today that “the NATO Mission is the Aegean may be launched on Friday.”
He was apparently very optimistic.
The original plan was that the NATO Mission should be launched on February 29th. And Turkey, as a good bargainer, has time. Especially as important developments are ahead, developments like the EU Interior Ministers meeting on Thursday, the truce in Syria and the possible Peace talks.
Ankara has quite some issues on its To Do List:
- no re-admission of refugees,
- no NATO ships near points of Greek-Turkish dispute,
- no Truce agreement with the Syrian Kurds of YGP
- the outstanding payment of 3 billion euro promised by the EU for Turkey’s problem with the refugees.
Too bad for Turkey is also that NATO Secretary General said on Tuesday, that NATO ships will take refugees rescued in the Aegean back to Turkey.
One may ask “Why did Turkey formally request the NATO in the area?” – “That’s part of the bargain,” one with knowledge would answer. And furthermore it was Turkey’s politicians who invited the NATO not the country’s military.
BTW: I am not very sure that also Greece would agree “the operational areas to be determined by the commander” of the rotating leadership. I think, the commander sits in Berlin and on the operating leader ship.
PS Maybe Erdogan and Turkish Chief of Staff try to find a solution via arm wrestling tonight.