Turkish opposition protest NATO radar

Turkish opposition protest NATO radar

Turkish opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies marched to Kurecik, Malatya, on Saturday in protest at the deployment a NATO radar station in the neighborhood at the end of 2012, Today's Zaman reported.

The CHP deputies, convening on Saturday as part of a series of activities to mark March 8 International Women's Day, organized a protest against the NATO radar site in Kurecik established as part of a wider early warning missile defense system.

The female deputies, among whom were the party's Deputy Chairperson Emine Ulker Tarhan and others, including Sabahat Akkiraz, Ayse Nedret Akova, Ayse Eser Danısoglu, Hulya Guven, Sedef Kucuk, Sena Kaleli, Melda Onur, Binnaz Toprak and Dilek Akagun Yılmaz. Veli Agbaba, the CHP Malatya branch head, made a press statement at the entrance of the radar site.

Video footage of the site was recorded for the first time by Vatan daily on Saturday.

Speaking during the protest, Agbaba criticized the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, claiming that it had granted control of the radar to the US. "We asked permission from the Foreign Ministry to enter the site ... They said we don't have any authorization ... Should we ask the US for permission? The AK Party has handed over control of this site to the US," said Agbaba, expressing his criticism.

In parallel remarks to Agbaba, Tarhan deplored the government for the presence of US soldiers in the site. "The people of Kurecik have to request permission from US soldiers in order to enter the land around their neighborhood. Who is this radar site actually protecting? The Turkish people or the US soldiers, or someone else behind them?" stated Tarhan. The CHP's opposition to the plan has also been led by the stiff words of CHP leader Kemal Kılıcdaroglu, who accused the prime minister of kowtowing to NATO and signing a deal that would share the radar's strategic data with Israel. "The government, which appears to be in a row with Israel in front of the curtain, has turned Turkey into a shield for Israel behind the curtain," the opposition leader stated in press release last September.

The protest on Saturday was not the first one to be organized by the CHP. Last October, the regional branch of the party organized another protest and promised that the radar would not be built. Alongside locals and CHP members, there were also representatives from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) and the Labor Party (EMEP).

Mark Hertling, a top US Army commander in Europe, announced on Feb. 26 in Montenegro's capital of Podgorica that US forces have started to man Malatya's Kurecik radar site, which is part of a wider NATO missile defense system, the Associated Press reported.

According to the NATO plan, missile interceptors in Romania and Poland combined with the radar station in Turkey will create a broad system of protection for every NATO country against mid-range missile attacks.

The government has repetitively dismissed claims that the radar system is being deployed to protect Israel, reminding the public that the Jewish state is not a NATO member country.

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