>Turkey to join Operation Atalanta?

>On 16th December 2008 F-496 TCG Gökova returned to her homeport Gölcük. She has spent 7 weeks south of Suez as part of SNMG-2 and took part in the Operation Allied Provider. She has escorted ships of WFP through pirate infested waters and helped other ships by deterring possible pirate attacks.

When I have started this blog I was aware about the piracy problem but I did not imagined that I would write about it that much. Apparently I was wrong. Interestingly this problem will remain on the focus in the foreseeable future and not just because of three hijacked merchant ships.

On 8th December EU Council adopted a decision on the launch of a European Union military operation in order to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. For the next 12 months nations of EU will provide military personal and hardware so that, up to 6 frigates and 3 maritime patrol aircrafts will be present at any time.

Turkey is a NATO member country. Thus it was logical and natural for a Turkish warship to sail to Somalia as part of NATO taskforce. But Turkey in a not a member of EU and thus a Turkish warship is not a natural part of an EU naval force.

But this may change. According to Turkish daily Akşam, Turkish General Staff is making advanced preparations and plans to participate at the Operation Atalanta but it wishes to take active role in the command and control mechanism. And according to daily Zaman, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have been in constant contact with the EU concerning Turkey’s participation in Operation Atalanta.

Integration of Turkish military assets into an EU military operation is certainly not a easy act and there must be lots of mainly political and diplomatic hurdles to be overcome. Military integration would be the easier part as most of the EU countries are also members of NATO. It would not a problem for Turkish naval assets to adopt to command, communication and operational standards of EU is these should differ from NATO standards.

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