By Pelin Yavuz
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was interviewed regarding the NATO mission in Afghanistan at the beginning of this week. In his speech, he stated that NATO forces will not withdraw before 2014 and NATO will not forgo its strategy in the region despite casualties.
The Secretary General also touched upon the recent questions about the ongoing conflict in Syria. After Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brought a call for a buffer zone for Syrian refugees to the agenda, some opponents stated their arguments last week. 18th U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey attracted the attention of the international community with his declaration in which he emphasized that Turkey wanted NATO to take an initiative in the buffer zone.
In this context, referring to Turkey’s demand for the zone, Rasmussen declared that NATO had no plan for any military intervention in Syria but that the situation is being monitored carefully because Turkey, a neighbor of Syria, is a NATO member. The NATO Secretary General said: “Of course, we stand ready to take all necessary steps to protect and defend Turkey as an ally within NATO.”
Rasmussen’s statements have been interpreted by different perspectives in Syria and Turkey. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi understood Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for the zone to be an attack on the national sovereignty of Syria. At the same time, the Turkish media has perceived Rasmussen’s statements as a promise for the complete protection of Turkey in any case of conflict with Syria.