Turkish civilian firearm sales up 640%

Annual firearm sales to civilians in Turkey have increased by 639% since 1997, a report by Turkey’s Association for Defence Industry Manufacturers (SASAD) revealed. These figures cover only licensed, registered firearms, a statement underlined.

There are currently an estimated 28 million firearms in the hands of civilians in Turkey, of which only a little over 9 million are registered with the state.

This means that there are 35 firearms (12 registered) available for every 100 Turks.

The increase in sales over the last decade is mostly attributed to relaxed regulations that allow for easier access to weapons and larger availability of both domestically manufactured and foreign firearms. Turkish firearms sales by category for the year of 2013 were as follows: handguns 54%, rifles 27%, shotguns 15%, accessories & other 4%.

Cities with top sales in 2013 were Istanbul, Adana, Ankara, Trabzon, Bursa, Izmir, Diyarbakir, Samsun, Kocaeli and Gaziantep.

 

Global energy experts set to meet in Turkey

The Turkish energy minister and a senior economist are to deliver speeches at the opening of the Anadolu Agency co-sponsored, 20th International Energy and Environment Fair due to be held in Istanbul on April 24.

The convention, to be held over three days at the Istanbul Expo Center, will be the largest energy and environment fair to be held in Turkey, attracting approximately 16,000 local and foreign participants.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz will open the fair, and International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol will deliver a speech during the opening ceremony.

International energy experts will discuss a variety of issues including renewable energy technologies, developments in the renewable energy market, the operation and maintenance of power plants, nuclear power, natural gas and petroleum and the financing of energy projects and energy law.

The Anadolu Agency’s Deputy Director General Cagatay Culcuoglu will also chair a session entitled, “Nuclear energy and the latest developments in Turkey.”

WP

The New Strategic Reality in the Black Sea

The crisis in Ukraine, which led to annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014, had an immediate impact on the strategic situation across the entire Black Sea region. Russia emerged as a clear beneficiary mostly at the expense of Ukraine. The new situation will now have repercussions for other regional actors, in particular Turkey and Romania, and will lead to the increased involvement of the United States. However, Washington will likely prefer to support Romania over Turkey in an attempt to avoid the creation of a potential Russo-Turkic geopolitical duopoly in the region.

Russian gains

The annexation of Crimea has greatly increased Russia’s strategic footprint in the Black Sea region. From a military perspective, the peninsula can serve as an outpost for extending power projection towards southern Ukraine, the Balkans and Turkey.  Now that Moscow’s military presence is no longer constrained by former legal agreements with the Ukrainian side, it can fully utilise the geostrategic potential of Crimea by implementing a broad spectrum of mutually reinforcing instruments.  The Iskander surface-to-surface tactical ballistic missile, for example, with a 400 kilometre operational range, could cover the entire southern part of Ukraine – including important industrial cities like Odessa, Kryvyi Rih and Dnipropetrovsk, a large part of Moldova, the entire Romanian coastline and a significant part of the Turkish Black Sea coast. The surface-to-surface systems can be further complemented by long-range, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles providing a full spectrum of capability to strike ground targets, interdict maritime traffic and impose no-fly zones.

The range of power projection can be further extended by employing air and naval assets. The Russian air force, through newly gained access to ex-Ukrainian air bases in Crimea, now has a broader presence covering almost the entire Black Sea coastline, Transnistria and southern Ukraine comfortably within its operational range. It’s worth stressing that the location of the Crimea peninsula makes it a very attractive place for stationing airborne troops, naval infantry and Spetsnaz (special operations forces) for potential deployment in southern Ukraine. The deployment of troops would be further facilitated in the near future by the acquisition of Mistral amphibious assault ships, of which one is to be allocated to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The annexation of Crimea has also radically improved the capabilities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. It has now gained unimpeded access to the Sevastopol naval base alongside an entire ex-Ukrainian naval infrastructure on the peninsula.

Before the Crimean crisis, the Black Sea Fleet had two cruisers, one destroyer, two frigates, ten corvettes and one diesel-powered submarine and constituted a major naval power in the region. Its potential was only exceeded by the Turkish Navy which splits its forces between the Black Sea and the Aegean and Mediterranean theatres. The potential of the Black Sea Fleet will be further increased after completion of an ambitious modernisation programme which will add six new frigates, six new submarines, a Mistral amphibious assault ship and several other smaller vessels. Assuming no radical changes to the naval potential of other countries in the region, the Russian Black Sea Fleet will soon equal or be greater than the combined fleets of all the other Black Sea coastal states.

Apart from the increase in its offensive capabilities, Russia will also see its defensive posture strengthen. Crimea offers Russia a strong forward defence point, particularly against potential air and sea incursions into the south-western regions of the Russian Federation. Anti-ship and anti-aircraft capabilities of Black Sea Fleet complemented by similar land-based systems on the peninsula will together create a strong line of defence ahead of the Russian mainland.

Emerging duopoly?

Consequences of the crisis have been almost entirely negative for Ukraine. Crimea was Ukraine’s window to the Black Sea and home to key naval bases in Sevastopol and Donuzlav Bay, which are now lost.  The Ukrainian navy has, at least temporarily, lost most of its warships during the Crimean crisis and currently has only one vessel capable of full-scale combat operations – the Hetman Sahaydachniy. The loss of naval bases in Crimea leaves Odessa as the primary and only alternative place for the dislocated Ukrainian Navy. However this naval base is potentially well within the operational range of missile systems located in Crimea and due to its geographic location, a Russian blockade would be relatively easy to execute.

The annexation of Crimea has significantly changed the balance of power in the region towards a more duopolistic geopolitical arrangement – between Russian and Turkey. To some extent, this arrangement resembles one from the 18th or 19th century. From the Turkish point-of-view, the immediate impact of the crisis is rather negative since the country has to now face a more powerful and assertive Russian presence in the Black Sea region resulting in the deterioration of Ankara’s relative position versus Moscow. The newly expanded Russian military presence will likely put Turkey in a more defensive position in the Black Sea.

Ankara has often voiced concerns about Russian actions in the region in the recent years. With the annexation of Crimea, however, it avoided challenging Moscow directly and can be seen as a result of Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbours” foreign policy. There is also a notable increase in trade and economic relations between both countries along with a significant dependence on Russian energy for Turkey. Both countries also recognise each other’s strength and position in the region and understand that a direct confrontation would have far reaching consequences, potentially destabilising vast areas across the Black Sea, Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia.

The new balance of power also underlines Turkey’s role as the sole local actor capable of potentially challenging Russian expansion in the region. This increases the importance of Ankara on the international stage and elevates it further as an alternative to Moscow for smaller countries. Therefore, the crisis provides Turkey with an opportunity to capitalise on its status of a regional power. However, the extent of that impact will significantly depend on US policy choices and the degree to which Washington will actually decide to support Ankara directly rather than countering Russia by strengthening other actors in the region.

It’s already visible that one of results of the Ukrainian crisis will be an increased US presence in the region. Apart from more frequent naval visits to the Black Sea basin, Washington will likely extend different forms of support to its NATO allies. Despite Turkey being the strongest regional ally, it’s very likely that Bucharest will become a major, if not the main, recipient of increased US support. In general, Romania is likely to firmly establish itself, due to the degradation of Ukraine, as a third power in the region after Russia and Turkey. From the US perspective the country offers several strategic advantages. It’s the least dependent of the coastal states on Russian energy. It was also historically less pro-Russian than many other Balkan countries (e.g. Bulgaria, Serbia or Greece).  In addition the country offers a good access point to several critical areas in South-Eastern Europe as it’s located in the direct vicinity of the Balkans, Ukraine and the Black Sea. Romania’s convenient position can be used as a logistical hub to serve US forces en route to the Middle East or Central Asia. The country already hosts US military personnel, mainly at the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base. All these factors make Romania a good candidate for a buffer to potential future Russian expansion.

Geopolitical shifts

In addition, the US may also have its own strategic interest in favouring Romania over Turkey. On the surface it may appear that Turkey would be the most natural candidate for receiving US support as the most prominent regional power capable of challenging Russian influence. However, further strengthening of Turkey at the expense of other regional countries could lead to the creation of a geopolitical duopoly transforming the region into a quasi-Russo-Turkic condominium. This in turn could significantly reduce influence of external actors thus potentially leading to marginalization of US influence in the area.

Furthermore, Turkey, due to its military and economic strength, could be a more difficult partner for the US. It’s also well possible that Ankara would actually see increased US presence as a factor weakening its regional position and a potential constraint on pursuing own foreign policy objectives.  Bucharest, on the contrary, would not only be less willing and able to challenge US influence, but would rather see it as a factor elevating its position in the region. Thus, extending support to Romania not only creates a buffer against potential further Russian expansion but also helps to maintain a less concentrated balance of power in the region. That in turn would help Washington to maintain a more flexible and unimpeded access to the area.

The chain of events which unfolded due to the Ukrainian crisis has led to a significant change in the strategic situation in the Black Sea region. Turkey has to now face a larger and more assertive Russian presence, which will likely force it to deploy more resources to its northern flank and maintain a defensive posture in the Black Sea. While Russia, after more than 20 years, has managed to restore a significant presence in the area. It is not yet on the level achieved during the times of the Soviet Union, but is closer to its position during the 19th century.

By Mr. Adam Klus

Adam Klus is a PhD student of the Past, Space and Environment in Society Doctoral Programme at the University of Eastern Finland. His research interests include; geopolitics of Eastern Europe, country risk analysis, asymmetric threats, unconventional use of military force, and geopolitically disruptive technologies. He works as an investment professional and has several years of experience from financial companies in London and Helsinki.

Greek court rejects extradition of terror suspect

The Thessaloniki Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled Hüseyin Fevzi Tekin who was arrested last February will not be extradited to Turkey at least until his political asylum request is concluded.

Tekin, along with Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) members İsmail Akkol, Murat Korkut and Bilgehan Karpat, was arrested in Athens. When captured, he was in possession of a passport issued in the name of Bulgarian national Petrov Petar.

Greek police found a cache of weapons and explosives in his house. The court said that Tekin will remain in detention on charges related to the possession of weapons.

In a related development, Hasan Koşar, a DHKP-C member recently arrested for his involvement in a 2011 bombing in Thessaloniki, was released on bail. Koşar and 14 others, including two other DHKP-C members, were arrested after the explosion that killed one. He was released only to be arrested again as further investigation found he was involved in the attack. The Thessaloniki court ruled for his release as he has been a resident of Greece for over 23 years and “was not expected to flee abroad.”

Last week, the Thessaloniki Court of Appeals rejected an extradition demand for Kadir Kaya, another DHKP-C member, who was jailed last year but freed. The court also decided not to extradite two other DHKP-C members who were captured in a boat carrying arms and explosives from Greece’s Chios island on July 30.

Tekin is a high-ranking official in the DHKP-C who rose to the top after the death of its leader Dursun Karataş in 2008. He was arrested after a series of bombings were carried out in Istanbul’s Fatih district in 1999. After his release on parole, he disappeared. He is accused of commanding the organization from Greece.

Greece has long been a favorite hideaway for terrorists from the DHKP-C and PKK.

Terrorists fleeing Turkey took shelter at refugee camps in Lavrion under the guise of asylum seekers, especially in the 1980s.

The DHKP-C, founded in 1978 as a Marxist-Leninist party, was designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Under the name of Dev Sol until 1994, the organization claimed responsibility for a series of high-profile murders, including the assassination of nationalist politician Gün Sazak and former prime minister Nihat Erim in 1980. The group also killed several Turkish intelligence officials. In 1994, it was founded as the DHKP-C after Dev Sol splintered. The group’s terror activities remained relatively minor compared to the PKK, another terrorist organization targeting Turkey.

The DHKP-C attempted to stage a bloody comeback in the last two years by carrying out attacks against the police. In 2012, about ten years after its last known lethal attack in Turkey, the DHKP-C conducted a suicide bombing at a police station in Istanbul, killing a policeman.

It claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard in February 2013. This was followed one month later by rocket attacks against the Ministry of Justice in Ankara and the headquarters of the ruling AK Party. In September 2013, the DHKP-C claimed responsibility for a rocket attack against the headquarters of Turkish police in the capital.

No casualties were reported in all three attacks. The DHKP-C, originally established as a left-wing movement opposed to “fascist regimes in Turkey controlled by the West” targeted U.S. interests, including U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities and NATO personnel and facilities since the 1990s. During the Gulf War in 1991, the organization claimed responsibility for the killing of two U.S. soldiers in Turkey and targeted NATO and U.S. logistical facilities in various attacks.

Following those attacks, Turkey launched a massive crackdown against the group in 1992 and an unknown number of its senior leaders were killed in operations in Istanbul. The terrorist organization restricted its activities in late 1990s, although it made headlines after a series of hunger strikes by its imprisoned members in 1999 that concluded with a violent crackdown by Turkish security forces against the prisoners. The group changed its tactics in the subsequent years, using terminally ill people as suicide bombers.

Daily Sabah

Turkey Approves Controversial Spy Agency Bill

Turkey’s parliament has approved a bill that increases the powers and immunities of the country’s spy agency. It’s the latest in a string of moves critics say is undermining democracy in the country that is a candidate to join the European Union.

The bill, approved Thursday, would give Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency the ability to launch covert operations and increased capacity to keep tabs on citizens. It would also introduce prison terms for the publication of secret documents.

The government insists the overhaul will make the agency more efficient and allow it to meet “new security and foreign policy needs.”

Opposition parties say the bill grants the agency far reaching powers and will turn Turkey into a surveillance state. It has vowed to seek its cancellation at Turkey’s highest court.

AP

Turkish PM seeks more control over procurement

akpartilogoThough embattled by recent corruption scandals, the Turkish government continues to reshape the civilian-military balance in procurement decisions, proposing to extend the terms of commanders it deems “government-friendly.”

A draft bill proposed to Parliament Jan. 21 empowers Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to extend the terms of top brass. It states that the terms of the commanders of the Land Forces, Navy and Air Force may be extended “upon recommendation by the chief of General Staff and endorsement by the prime minister.”

If passed, the bill could keep the incumbents in office until 2016-’17 (depending on the commander’s retirement age), including Army Gen. Necdet Ozel, chief of the General Staff.

Experts and industry sources agreed that an annual reshuffle in August underscored a visible shift in power from the generals to civilians in controlling defense procurement.

They said the new command structure featured generals who would fully respect the government’s authority in procurement and politics, agreeing to retreat to a minimal role in specifying requirements and choosing bidders.

The Supreme Military Council, which is led by Erdogan and decides on promotions and retirements of top military officers, announced in August the unexpected retirement of the country’s paramilitary gendarmarie force commander, Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, who had been the leading candidate to take over Land Forces. Kalyoncu was viewed as a government critic.

Instead, Gen. Hulusi Akar was given the job and, according to custom, would be expected to replace Ozel as armed forces chief in 2015. But under the new law, he could remain longer.

In the same reshuffle, Vice Adm. Bulent Bostanoglu was appointed commander of the Navy, Lt. Gen. Akin Ozturk as head of the Air Force, and Gen. Servet Yoruk as commander of the gendarmarie.

“The government and military wings of the procurement mechanism have been working in perfect harmony and coordination,” a senior procurement official said Jan. 27. The official would not comment on the draft bill.

In the 1990s, the generals had the upper hand in procurement decisions. Since Erdogan rose to power in 2002 and subsequently won three landslide election victories, the military’s role in politics and procurement has diminished.

“The draft bill clearly indicates Erdogan’s intentions to maintain the favorable procurement [and political] equilibrium in which he feels safe and can run his one-man show,” one London-based Turkey specialist said.

A senior Turkish military officer declined to comment.

In October 2012, Erdogan’s government introduced new rules to regulate procurement and broaden the jurisdiction and administrative powers of the civilian procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM). Under the new rules, a program takes off when a military request for a weapon system has been approved by the SSM and the defense minister.

The SSM is solely responsible for determining the ideal modality for every procurement program. It also can buy from a single source when it deems necessary due to “national interest, confidentiality, monopoly of technological capabilities and meeting urgent requirements.”

Analysts said the new rules, coupled with the profile of the incumbent top brass, means the “one-man show in procurement in the powerful personality of the prime minister would be bolstered.”

“That’s precisely why Erdogan wants to have the current commanders in office longer than they could stay under the present regulations,” said one defense expert here.

Several programs and contracts spanning the next few years and amounting to billions of dollars await critical decisions.

Turkey will decide in about a year whether to stick by a September award of a $3.44 billion contract to China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. to build Turkey’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense architecture.

Turkey has come under increasing pressure from its NATO allies, especially the US, to change course. The Chinese contractor is on a US sanctions list as part of the Iran, Syria and North Korea Non-Proliferation Act. Turkey has said it would turn to European and US bidders if talks with the Chinese contender fail.

Under Erdogan, the procurement bureaucracy also will decide whether to sign an $800 million contract with Sedef, an Istanbul shipyard partnered with Spain’s Navantia to build Turkey’s first landing platform dock ship; select another shipyard to construct four Milgem corvettes; decide whether to sign a multibillion-dollar deal with Sikorsky to buy utility helicopters; pick up a serial production contractor for the locally developed Altay new-generation main battle tank; and decide on Turkey’s future in the US-led F-35 program.

DefenseNews

Erdogan acts to take away more clout from Turkish military

Turkey, fearing the prospect of intervention, has again reduced the influence of the military.

Parliament has voted to redefine the duty of the military in Turkey. On July 13, the ruling Justice and Development Party rammed through a bill that would end any military intervention in politics.

“The duty of the Armed Forces is to protect the Turkish homeland against threats and dangers to come from abroad, to ensure the preservation and strengthening of military power in a manner that will provide deterrence, to fulfill the duties abroad with the decision of the Parliament and help maintain international peace,” the amendment said.

The amendment was sponsored by the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan amid fears that the military, which staged four coups between 1960 and 1997, could exploit the nationwide protests in Turkey.

Under the revision, the military, the second largest in NATO, would be restricted to defense against foreign threats as well as participating in international peacekeeping missions.

Over the last five years, Erdogan has steadily whittled away at the power and influence of the military. The turning point came in 2010 when much of the General Staff resigned in protest of Erdogan’s intervention and the arrest of hundreds of officers. Since then, the prime minister was said to have maintained direct control over the General Staff.

“Our country has a tradition of coups,” Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said. “And the true victim of the coups has always been the people.”

Parliamentarians said the legislation also fell in line with European Union demands to place the military under greater civilian control. They said parliament would consider legislation to place the military under the authority of the Defense Ministry.

The pro-military opposition also voted for the amendment. Parliamentarians said they wanted to rule out any chance of a military coup.

“As of now, I hope Turkey will no longer speak of coups and will develop its democracy,” Sezgin Tanrikulu, a parliamentarian from the opposition Republican People’s Party, said.

WorldTribune

Turkish, US Military Inspectors to Fly Over Russia

 

Experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board a specially fitted Turkish CN-235 plane.
Experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board a specially fitted Turkish CN-235 plane.

Military inspectors from Turkey and the United States will fly over Russia’s territory starting from Monday as part of the international Open Skies Treaty, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

“In the period between July 22 and July 26, experts from Turkey and the United States will make a surveillance flight above the territory of Russia on board Turkey’s CN-235 plane,” the ministry said in a statement.

Russian experts will also be on board the aircraft, to oversee the proper use of surveillance and filming equipment.

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities. Russia ratified the deal in May 2001.

Under the treaty, each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with a sensor suite including optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, thermal infrared imaging sensors, and imaging radar.

The image data recorded during the observation flights can be shared among all signatories to support the monitoring of compliance with existing or future arms control treaties.

RIA Novosti

Raytheon’s Mike Boots Explains Turkey’s Patriot Balance

A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)
A Dutch soldier standing by a Patriot anti-missile battery at the Diyarbakir military airport in southeastern Turkey. (AFP)

TR Defence’s North America correspondent and acting editor-in-chief Hasan Karaahmet has interviewed Mr. Mike Boots, Patriot Turkey Program Manager at Raytheon Defense Systems, to shed light on some of the most common questions Turkish defense enthusiasts ask regarding Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS long-range air defence program.

Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, thank you for agreeing to talk to our readers. As a time-tested, battle-proven system, many countries around the world depend on the Patriot, both NATO and non-NATO. What is the driving force behind Patriot’s huge commercial success to this day?

Mike Boots: No other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats; and no other air and missile defense system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is the backbone of NATO’s lower tier defense, and as you know, Patriot is currently deployed in Turkey by NATO members Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.

Hasan Karaahmet: What is the current level of deployment around the world?

Mike Boots: There are currently over 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world with Raytheon’s 12 Patriot partners. More than 40 Patriot fire units are now in construction or are undergoing modernization.

Hasan Karaahmet: How about the US? How long does the US military itself plan on using the Patriot air defence system?

Mike Boots: The US Army has committed to fielding Patriot beyond the year 2048.

Hasan Karaahmet: What’s Raytheon’s policy on investments in Turkey?

Mike Boots: Raytheon has a long history working in Turkey — from ground based air defence systems like Stinger and Hawk to tactical radars like Firefinder and Sentinel. From our family of air-to-air missiles like AMRAAM and AIM-9 to naval command management systems like Genesis. Raytheon is committed to partnerships with Turkish industry.

Hasan Karaahmet: Any cooperation prospects in regards to Patriot?

Mike Boots: We are already working closely with several Turkish defence companies to produce Patriot components for export to other countries. For example, Aselsan is a key strategic partner for Raytheon on the Antenna Mast Group for the UAE Patriot system. Roketsan is also a key strategic partner, producing components of GEM-T missile for the UAE and Kuwait. Also, Pagatel is producing command and control shelters, and AYESAS is working on the command and control integration.

Hasan Karaahmet: Turkey’s Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, the SSM, has adopted a procurement policy favoring local production and technology sharing. What are Raytheon’s views on this?

Mike Boots: Both Roketsan and Aselsan have been awardedRaytheon’s prestigious Supplier Excellence awards for the past two years for the excellent work they have performed on these programs. We anticipate increased global Patriot work share for Roketsan and Aselsan and have recently signed long-ter, agreements with these great companies for collaboration on advanced technology co-development projects in the area of high altitude missile defense. In addition to these strategic partner companies I mentioned, many other Turkish defence companies have the experience and skills we look for in our suppliers. As we win in other countries, they will get the opportunity to compete for additional work for those programs.

Hasan Karaahmet: Can the Patriot system be operated in conjunction with an Aselsan radar or launch a Turkish-made missile with comparable capabilities?

Mike Boots: Patriot can use data and information from a wide variety of sources and can interface with a variety of equipment, including missiles. We would need to know the specific sensors or effectors we are talking about in order to adequately answer that question.

Hasan Karaahmet: Does the US government or certain laws restrict the transfer of know-how on any subsystem or component of Patriot to Turkey?

Mike Boots: No! Turkey is a valuable ally of the United States and a NATO partner. Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS program fulfills an important NATO air and missile defence commitment.

Hasan Karaahmet: Certain reports appeared in the Turkish defence media indicate that the Patriot procurement has been tied to Turkey’s being granted access to F-35 source codes and the SM-2/Aegis technology for TF-2000 class frigates. What can you tell me about this?

Mike Boots: Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as software source codes, are often an issue to be negotiated in any sale of new technology. A customer’s desire for IP rights must be balanced with the rights of the inventor and owner of those rights through the negotiation process.

Hasan Karaahmet: Mr. Boots, how does Patriot compare to the other Western contender in T-LORAMIDS, Eurosam’s SAMP/T? What makes Patriot the better of the two?

Mike Boots: As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, no other existing system has the proven combat experience of Patriot to engage evolving threats. No other air and missile defence system has demonstrated the reliability and lower cost of system ownership. Patriot is NATO’s lower tier defense with 200 Patriot fire units deployed around the world.

Hasan Karaahmet: In the past, we’ve published statements from mainly US sources that if Turkey opts for a non-Western solution, integration of the SAM system into NATO networks can be problematic. Can you explain to our viewers as to why this is the case?

Mike Boots: We have read and heard similar statements from various sources. NATO is very serious about protecting critical technology from falling into the hands of potential enemies. Patriot is a key element of NATO air and missile defence capability and works seamlessly with the NATO command and control architecture and other NATO defence systems. NATO would be very careful about what other systems might be connected to the architecture.

Hasan Karaahmet: What’s the future for Patriot? Is it going to continue to evolve with new capabilities beyond the GEM=T and PAC-3?

Mike Boots: The Patriot modernization roadmap will ensure Patriot remains the most advanced air and missile defence system in the world. If Turkey chooses Patriot for their long-range air and missile defense system, Turkish industry will have opportunities to participate in co-developing new technologies to help keep Patriot on the leading edge of technology.

 

Just open that damned chapter!

The European Union-Turkey relationship has again moved from one extreme to another. The end result is still the same: the accession process is still on hold. It was on hold when all the EU leaders were praising Turkey for its democratic and economic achievements; it is still on hold as some EU leaders are criticizing Turkey’s government for its harsh crackdown on protests and its interference in the press.   Like a pendulum, the mood changes, yet the facts remain: Croatia and Turkey started their EU accession processes together. Croatia got in last year, while Turkey is still waiting with quite a few chapters to go.

And look who is spearheading the criticism against Turkey’s harsh response to peaceful demonstrators.  Angela Merkel. Have we all forgotten Stuttgart 21? It made 2010 the year of water cannon politics for the chancellor. What was the major criticism against Angela Merkel at the time? Her harsh response to protestors. Stuttgart 21 was about an old train station to be replaced by an underground. It all started when the construction team started to cut down the trees in a nearby park that was to be annexed to the new station grounds. When protesters gathered, riot police showed up and dispersed them with water cannons and tear gas. That displayed the decisiveness of Angela Merkel. When you compare Gezi to Stuttgart 21, the only difference is in the competence of the riot police, if you ask me. The Germans are competent, Turks are not. The criticism on the lack of press freedom, I understand. But harsh response? Stuttgart 21 was harsh, too. That was the year when the CDU lost the state of Baden Württemberg to the Greens in the upcoming elections. It’s not hard to understand why. Populist politicians are the same everywhere, whether they are called Erdoğan or Merkel.

The protests in Taksim Square over cutting down trees in Gezi Park were part and parcel of the Euopeanization of Turkey. It all started with the trees. Unlike Stuttgart 21, fringe leftist groups were not at the core in Gezi Park, they came later. It was the young, urban professionals of Turkey who took to the streets. They are the result of the Europeanization of Turkey and on that day they took the country a few steps further in the same direction. The rapid spread of protests all around the country was partly a response to police brutality in Gezi Park and partly a call for the freedom of the press.

A very European reflex, if you ask me. I find the decision to block the new chapter in the Turkish accession process rather disappointing. Blaming it on harsh response to recent protests however, is rather hypocritical of Ms. Merkel.

Young urban professionals have decided to take action. The EU’s response to these most Europeanized of Turks should not be to abandon them. The people on the street created a conducive environment for a positive agenda. If the EU fails to seize this chance, it would be disgrace – a disgrace toward the protestors in Turkey and towards the ideals of the EU. So? Just open that damned chapter! Period.

Guven Sak