“Our decision… shows that NATO stands with Turkey in the spirit of solidarity. As I look to next year, this spirit of solidarity will be equally important for our continued success,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a written message issued at the 19th International Antalya Conference on Security and Cooperation on Friday, hurriyetdailynews reported.
Referring to Afghanistan as the next year priority for NATO, Rasmussen added, “We will continue to advise and assist the Afghan forces after 2014. And I hope that Turkey will play an important role in this vital mission, as it does in ISAF (International Security Assistance Force).”
As a contributor to the military alliance in Afghanistan, Ankara assumed the regional command of ISAF in Kabul in 2009.
The NATO chief remarks came nearly 10 days after NATO approved Turkey’s request for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles in its territory.
The agreement emerged from a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on December 4 despite strong opposition from Russia, Syria and Iran.
On Friday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed orders to authorize the plan to deploy Patriot missile batteries and about 400 troops to Turkey following the announcement of a similar move by Germany.