Turkey and Israel are likely to face a new crisis over Turkey’s Gokturk electro-optical satellite project, which will pave the way for the Turkish military to gather its own intelligence.
The project will enable Turkey to acquire high-resolution images for military intelligence in Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East. It will also strengthen Turkey’s hand in fighting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Concerned that the satellite will gather images of its territory, Israel has pressured France, which is working on the construction of the satellite in cooperation with the Italian-based company Telespazio, to stop the project. Given the possibility that its efforts in France may yield no results, Israeli officials are also lobbying in Ankara.
Once the satellite is launched in 2012, Turkey will be able to sell the images it obtains to other countries as well. Israel is currently attempting to negotiate with Turkish officials in order to ensure Turkey does not sell images of Israel to other states and Palestine. However, the response from Turkish officials was clear: “We will decide how to use the images taken by our satellite.”
Speaking to Today’s Zaman, high-level officials from the Turkish Defense Ministry said: “For years, Israel has obtained images of our territory. For the first time, we will have a satellite for intelligence. Reciprocity is essential in international relations. If they observe Turkish soil, Turkey has the same right, too.”