Dutch parliament says ‘yes’ to Patriots for Turkey

Dutch parliament says ‘yes’ to Patriots for Turkey

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr stand next to a PAC-2 launcher of a

December 21, 2012, Friday/ 08:45:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Holland approved a bill on Thursday in its House of Representatives foreseeing the delivery of two Patriot air-defense missile batteries in addition to a group of 400 Dutch soldiers to Turkey.

In addition to the coalition partners of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Labor Party (PvdA) in the government, a number of parties in the opposition bloc voted in affirmation of the bill.

The far-right Party for Freedom, established by the anti-Islamic Geert Wilders, and the Socialist Party (SP) opposed the bill.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans assured the Dutch parliament in a speech that the Patriot batteries would only be used for defensive purposes, in the case of a missile attack on NATO-member Turkey's territory from across the Syrian border, adding that the decision to deploy was taken in accordance with a common agreement of NATO allies.

Timmermans also expressed gratitude for the consenting parties. 

Patriots to be sent on Jan. 8 from Holland

The decision was also made to deliver the Patriot batteries from Holland on Jan. 8. The defense system is expected to be in operation starting mid-January.

Last week, Timmermans and Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a joint letter to the lower house of the Dutch parliament that the Patriots may be ready soon after New Year's.

The cost to Holland for the deployment of the Patriot missiles and Dutch soldiers, who are under an arrangement to stay at the Turkey-Syria border for one month, would be 42 million euros.

Meanwhile, Tom Middendorp, the Dutch chief of defense, has stated that the number of soldiers to be sent to Turkey could be reduced in order to mitigate the total cost of the deployment.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands, the only three NATO members with the currently most advanced model of Patriot missiles, have all agreed to send missiles to aid fellow member Turkey. They are to be deployed under Turkey's request to NATO to help the country boost its air defense capabilities against possible missile threats from Syria.

With several hundred soldiers needed to operate each battery, the total number of US, Dutch and German soldiers to be deployed in Turkey is expected to reach more than 2,000.

Each battery reportedly has four to six missile launchers and each launcher has the capacity to launch 16 missiles. A total of six missile batteries would be able to launch at least 500 missiles in response to attacks.

The cost of transportation and operation of the systems is expected to be met by the countries supplying the Patriots to Turkey. Turkey, for its part, will meet the cost of the accommodation, food and local transport of the foreign soldiers to be based in Turkey to operate the Patriot missile systems.

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