Turkey applies to join EU defence project

The European defence programme would have a budget of 1 billion euros and facilitate military mobility between territories
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PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey has applied to take part in a project coordinated by the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), a collaboration aimed at achieving military cooperation between all member states, according to the Turkish news media Ahval.

In this regard, German media Welt am Sonntag reported that Ankara submitted the official request to the Netherlands, as the country responsible for coordinating the project in which it wants to participate. The multi-billion dollar plan would include improving military mobility between countries. 

In this regard, last November Germany presented and accepted the regulation that would ease the way for non-EU countries to participate in EU Security and Defence Cooperation projects. Thus, non-EU members would be able to join these projects as long as they meet certain political, legal and financial criteria and share the EU's values. Furthermore, they must "act within the framework of the principles of good neighbourly relations with EU countries and not take measures that conflict with common security and defence interests".

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PHOTO/NATO - NATO Secretary General's press conference after defence ministers' meetings

In early May, EU defence ministers met in Brussels and granted the US, Canada and Norway participation in the project that Turkey now wants to join. If Turkey joins, the Security Council would be responsible for verifying that Turkey meets the requirements. 

The PESCO project, founded in 2017, would focus on member states developing their defence capabilities through cooperation between member states and offers the possibility of "operational readiness exercises". In this respect, the primary objective of the Cooperation's creation was to create a European military and defence union.

This strategy on Ankara's part would seek to further strengthen its military capabilities in a context in which Turkey has already positioned itself as a power in weapons technology, specifically in drones. This progress has been possible thanks to the growth in the development of systems with its own technology, which has given it a certain degree of independence in relation to the manufacture of its own military technology. In this respect, almost 70 per cent of the needs of its armed forces can be met by its domestic industry. 

 

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PHOTO/REUTERS  - A Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system

Alongside this, Turkey has already demonstrated its desire to further invest and develop its military potential, regardless of international regulations. Already in 2019, Turkey acquired Russian S-400 air defence missiles, thus defying NATO as the missile system acquired would have been incompatible with the criteria of the Atlantic Alliance. 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan justified the acquisition by claiming that talks between US and European manufacturers 'failed' because they refused to 'transfer technology to Turkey' to which Russia had agreed. 

The S-400 missile system is one of the most sophisticated defence systems currently available. It consists of four different types of missiles that can neutralise targets 400 km away and at altitudes below 30 kilometres. It is also capable of shooting down military aircraft, drones and ballistic cruise missiles. As Félix Arteaga, a researcher on security and defence at the Elcano Royal Institute, told El País, 'Moscow also offered Ankara to participate in the development of the future S-500'. Along these lines, countries such as Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are reportedly interested in acquiring these Russian defence systems. 

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AFP/BIROL BEBEK  - Turkish Drone model Bayraktar TB2

Moreover, the recent conflicts in which Turkey has been involved in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh have served as perfect scenarios for Turkey to show the world both its weapons and defence potential.

Turkey's rapprochement has provoked reactions in Greece and Cyprus, states between which tensions over the control of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean have been simmering in recent months. Diplomatic sources told Welt am Sonntag that they hope that 'cooperation with Turkey in the framework of PESCO will lead to normalisation between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece, as well as to improved cooperation between the EU and NATO'.