Regional Initiatives and Activities
Launched in 1996 with the aim of improving cooperation among regional countries and enhancing security and stability in Southeastern Europe, the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial Process (SEDM) has maintained its regional and international importance and visibility up to today.
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the USA are members of SEDM. The increase in the number of memberships and observers to this process since its inception is indicative of the interest shown in it. Moldovia and Georgia have become observers in the SEDM process.
SEDM’s activities are designed in accordance with the SEDM-CC (Coordination Committee) Agreement, signed in 2000. The revised version of the Agreement was signed by the parties at the 2009 Defense Ministerial Meeting in Sofia.
Presidency of SEDM is for a duration of two years. Turkey held the presidency in 2003-2005.
The South Eastern Europe Simulation Network, satellite interconnection of military hospitals, cooperation on natural disasters, border security, combating terrorism and cooperation in the field of defense industry and research are among the activities conducted in the context of SEDM.
Among SEDM initiatives, the South Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG), which was established in accordance with the Multinational Peace Force South-Eastern Europe Agreement in 1998, has a prominent place. SEEBRIG was set up to support peace keeping and humanitarian aid operations conducted by NATO or EU under UN or OSCE auspices. Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Macedonia and Turkey are participants in SEEBRIG. The brigade is an on-call force. One of the most important missions of the Brigade was assuming command of the Kabul Multinational Brigade Headquarter under ISAF auspices for six months. Turkey hosted the headquarters between 2007-2011.
2. Another initiative of Turkey is the Black Sea Naval Co-Operation Task Group, established in 2001, with the participation of all littoral countries of the Black Sea (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Turkey). The purpose of the initiative is to enhance cooperation among littoral states’ naval forces and to improve mutual confidence and good neighborly relations. The tasks of the BLACKSEAFOR include search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance operations, environmental protection and mine counter measures. Additional tasks can be assumed if agreed by all the parties. BLACKSEAFOR High Level Expert Group meetings and BLACKSEAFOR Naval Force Commanders meetings are held regularly. BLACKSEAFOR may also be available for employment in UN or the OSCE mandated operations. On 8th April 2011, the 10th anniversary of the inception of BLACKSEAFOR was celebrated in Istanbul with the participation of all littoral states.
3. The Turkish Naval Forces launched Operation Black Sea Harmony on 1 March 2004 with the aim of deterring terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other possible illegal activities in the Black Sea. In 2006 all littoral states were invited to join the Operation Black Sea Harmony. The Russian Federation, Ukraine and Romania have joined the operation.
This security operation involves monitoring and identifying suspect vessels. Operation Black Sea Harmony is in accordance with the aim and purpose of NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean. Information collected is exchanged between the NATO Headquarters in Naples and the Operation Black Sea Harmony Coordination Center in Ereğli, Turkey.
Turkey’s Contribution to NATO and EU Operations and Missions
Turkey has participated in all operations led by NATO in the Balkans since 1995. As such, it contributed to IFOR and SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, KFOR in Kosovo and Operations Essential Harvest, Amber Fox and Allied Harmony in Macedonia. Turkey’s personnel contribution to NATO operations and training missions is around 3200 as of October 2011.
KFOR’s presence in Kosovo since 1999 has been extremely important for stability and security not only in Kosovo but also for the region. Turkey currently takes part taking part in NATO operation KFOR in Kosovo with 350 military personnel. Moreover, Turkey also undertook the leadership of Multinational Task Force South (MNTF(S)) for a time.
NATO assumed the leadership of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan on August 11, 2003 in accordance with the Bonn Conference held in December 2001 and UNSCR 1386.
With ISAF, NATO, for the first time in its history launched an operation in a region outside of the Euro-Atlantic area. ISAF in addition to the geographical distance, is a strenuous operation in terms of required human and financial resources. Nevertheless, ISAF constitutes the priority for the Alliance in terms of demonstrating the effectiveness and credibility of NATO in the new security environment.
An ISAF Heads of State and Government meeting was also organized in the margins of the NATO Summit held in Lisbon on 19-20 November 2010. This meeting gave the opportunity to discuss the long-term partnership between NATO and Afghanistan, as well as the Transition Process regarding the handover of security responsibilities in Afghanistan to Afghan security forces. Declarations regarding the ISAF operation and the Long-term Partnership between NATO and Afghanistan were approved at the meeting.
During these discussions Turkey’s underlined the importance of regional cooperation, Afghanization, Afghan ownership and long-term commitments by international community to this country.
The implementation of the Transition Process began in July 2011 and is expected to be completed at the end of 2014.
Before NATO undertook command of the ISAF operation, Turkey led ISAF-II from June 2002 to February 2003 with 1400 troops. Turkey also assumed the leadership of ISAF-VII between February-August 2005 and at the same time assumed responsibility for Kabul International Airport. During her ISAF-VII leadership Turkey deployed 1430 military personnel and three utility helicopters in Afghanistan.
In addition, Turkey took command of Kabul Regional Command Capital (RCC) on a rotational basis together with France and Italy from August 2006 for two years. Turkey held the leadership of RCC during April-December and deployed 1200 personnel in the region. Moreover, ISAF Headquarters was reinforced with approximately 150 soldiers between August 2008-February 2009.
Former President of the Parliament and Foreign Minister Mr. Hikmet Çetin served as NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan during 2004-2006.
Turkey assumed the leadership of the RCC for a one year term on 31 November 2009. This responsibility was extended for another year until 1 November 2012 upon the request of the Allies. Currently, nearly 1800 Turkish personnel serve in ISAF.
Turkey contributed 1.5 million EUR to the Afghan National Army (ANA) Trust Fund and 2 million USD to the Helicopter Initiative.
So far, Turkey has provided military training to almost 14377 Afghan National Army (ANA) members, both in Afghanistan and in Turkey (Around 3250 ANA members were trained in Turkey).
The “Gazi” Military Training Center established with the contributions of the Turkish Armed Forces, Afghan National Army (ANA), Kabul Military Command and ISAF, was inaugurated on 2 February 2010. The Center focuses on training non-commissioned officers and soldiers.
In the field of training Turkey also provides nearly 190 personnel to the NATO Afghan Training Mission (NTM-A).
In parallel with the needs of the Afghan Army, quotas are allocated for Afghan military officers and petty officers in Turkish military branch schools. Training is also provided at the Mountain and Commando School (1190 personnel/12 infantry division are trained).
A Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was established in Wardak province in 2006, which is close to Kabul, in order to support efforts towards security and stability in Afghanistan. Wardak PRT works especially in the fields of education, health and agriculture to help development and reconstruction. Furthermore, Wardak PRT also provides training assistance for ANP.
Following the success of Wardak PRT, Turkey established its second PRT in Shibirgan with responsibility for Jawzcan and Sar-ı Pul provinces in northern Afghanistan. The Jawzcan PRT which opened officially after the Kabul Conference on 20 July 2010 currently provides education, agriculture, health and social development support to the Afghan people in the region.
As another major contribution, with the aim of increasing training support for ANP, starting from 28 July 2011, Turkey has begun training 1000 ANP students per year at the Police Training Center in Sivas/Turkey. The Memorandum of Understanding regarding the legal framework of the project was signed by Turkey, Japan, Afghanistan and the USA, on 5 March 2011.
NTM-I/ Iraq Training Mission
Upon the request of the Iraq authorities, NATO Heads of State and Government agreed at the 2004 Istanbul Summit to assist Iraq with the training of its security forces by establishing a “Training Mission” on 30 July 2004.
The objectives of the Training Mission are as follows:
-Forming appropriate liaison arrangements between the Iraqi Temporary Government and the Multinational Force.
-Working closely with the Iraqi authorities to establishing national structures, including training of Iraqi staff officers in Iraq.
-Selecting Iraqi personnel to be trained abroad.
-Determining the training, consultation and cooperation assistance which will be provided by NATO.
Turkey participates in NTM-I and also contributes to the efforts to stabilize Iraq by training Iraq Security Forces in Turkey. Turkey is also a donor country to the NTM-I Trust Fund. As of 2011 nearly 570 Iraqi officers have been trained at the Center for Excellence on Defence Against Terrorism and the Center for Partnership for Peace in Ankara.
NATO Baltic Air Policing
It was decided to provide temporary assistance in air policing to the Baltic countries and Slovenia which needed, as new allies, support in protecting their airspace. Turkey assumed this mission in the 9th rotation for four months between 1 April and 31 July 2006 over the Baltic countries’ airspace. In this context, four Quick Reaction Aircraft (F-16) and support personnel were deployed in Lithuania's Siauliai International Airport.
This mission conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces demonstrated Alliance solidarity and also contributed to further improving our relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Operation Active Endeavor
Operation Active Endeavor (OAE) is a NATO naval operation which was initiated after the September 11 attacks, in the context of Article 5, in October 2001, and which aims to detect and protect against terrorist activities in the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey deploys naval vessels for this Operation. In addition, other contributing countries’ ships can make use of Mersin and Aksaz harbors for logistical purposes.
Operation Ocean Shield
Turkey participates in Operation Ocean Shield which was initiated by NATO on 17 August 2009 to contribute to the international efforts to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa. Turkey supports a long-term role for NATO in combating piracy and contributes actively to these endeavors. Within this context, Turkey participates in Combined Task Force-151 (CTF-151) as well as NATO’s Ocean Shield Operation with naval vessels. A Turkish military vessel is deployed to the region within NATO or CTF-151 during the year.
Turkey has taken a consistent and principled attitude since the beginning of the crises in Libya and on all occasions has emphasized that the international efforts should focus on preventing attacks directed to civilians, stopping loss of lives and maintaining ceasefire. Within this context, Turkey clearly declared that the role on Libya which may be assumed by NATO must be based on visible necessity, legal grounds and regional support.
In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, NATO implemented arms embargo and no-fly zone missions under the name of “Operations Unified Protector” (OUP).
Turkey contributed to the OUP with frigates, a submarine, two tanker aircrafts and four F-16s fighters, in non-combat roles. The operation was successfully concluded on 31 October, 2011.
B. Contributions to EU operations and Missions
Turkey contributed to international peace and stability by participating the European Union’s “Concordia” and “Proxima” operations in the early 2000s.
Turkey still comprehensively contributes to several peace keeping operations and missions led by the EU such as EUFOR ALTHEA and the European Union Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUPM) and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).
In accordance with the decision taken in NATO’s Istanbul Summit in 2004, following the completion of NATO’s SFOR operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the end of 2004, a new and separate operation named EUFOR-ALTHEA was initiated by the EU relying on NATO assets and capabilities. In this regard, Turkey attaches importance to ensuring that decisions on the operation’s future are to be taken after consultations between the EU and NATO. As of August 2011, Turkey, is the second largest force contributor to nearly the 1650 man EUFOR Althea Operation. Currently, Turkey’s contribution to EUFOR-ALTHEA is nearly 300 personnel.
Turkey is also participating in the EU’s first civilian crises management operation EUPM in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
EU initiated a rule of law mission in Kosovo in 9 December 2008 and has gradually taken over the UN mission UNMIK’s tasks. EULEX. Turkey currently contributes to this mission with around 91 personnel. Turkey is the second biggest contributor to the mission among non-EU countries after the USA.
European Gendarmerie Force
At the High Level Interdepartmental Committee (CIMIN) meeting of 13 May 2009 in Paris, Turkey was invited to join, as an observer, the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF) which consists of France, Italy, Portugal, Spain Romania and the Netherlands. Within the EGF context, Turkey has deployed an Operation Monitoring and Communication Team in Afghanistan.