A Patriot missile system is seen in 2013 at a Turkish military base in Kahramanmaras.. (AFP)
ANKARA, TURKEY — The Dutch defense ministry announced Aug. 26 that the Netherlands no longer had the resources to maintain the Patriot batteries deployed in southern Turkey, prompting Turkey to seek a replacement.
The Netherlands have been deploying two Patriot batteries in Adana province 24/7 for nearly two years to protect Turkey against any Syrian missile attack. But a Dutch defense ministry spokeswoman said: “We’ve announced this now so that NATO can make a decision on how to continue.”
A senior Turkish defense ministry official said NATO officials were assessing future mission requirements and the availability of other Patriot batteries.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic issued a statement Aug. 27 saying Turkey appreciated the solidarity shown by its Dutch NATO ally since January 2013, as well as in the past.
He said the Dutch and Turkish authorities discussed the subject of termination in Ankara, Brussels and The Hague on Aug. 26. Bilgic said that the Dutch authorities explained the reason why the Patriot mission should come to an end was the difficulties of meeting the maintenance needs and keeping the battery operating personnel in Turkey.
“Due to the fact that the current threat continues, we are continuing to work with the NATO authorities on how to meet Turkey’s need for protection after the Dutch Patriot batteries leave,” said Bilgic.
Turkey has Patriot missiles stationed in 2012 in the southern provinces of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras and Adana. Six Patriot batteries were sent to Turkey by the US, the Netherlands and Germany as part of a NATO decision to boost Turkey’s air defenses against a potential Syrian missile attack.