Military deal authorizing joint Turkey-Serbia exercises sparks debate in Turkish parliament

Levent Kenez / Stockholm

A military framework agreement between Turkey and Serbia, signed in 2019, is being considered for ratification by the Turkish Parliament. The opposition opposed a number of articles of the agreement, which were first discussed in the Foreign Affairs Committee. The government claims this is a routine agreement, similar to those signed with other countries; however, opposition lawmakers say it contains material that will trouble Turkey’s allies and disrupt its interests in the Balkans.

Serbia ratified the treaty in 2020.

The military agreement, signed by the defense ministers of the two countries, allows the organization and participation in military exercises. According to documents obtained at the committee’s meeting on November 30, Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran defended the agreement, saying it was more comprehensive than the one signed in 2004 and included exercises. and joint training.

komisyon_tutanaklari sırbistan updated

“The agreement aims to develop the sharing of knowledge and experience between our military education and training institutions, to exchange guest personnel and troops, and to participate in exercises and training. We also aim to increase contacts and visits and to develop our cooperation in the defense industry and in logistics. Unlike the agreement signed in 2004, we allow joint exercises and training, ”Kıran said.

Ahmet Ünal Çeviköz, deputy of the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and former ambassador, thus opposed the expansion of the agreement, saying it would create problems between Turkey and its countries. Balkan partners.

“I wonder with which other Balkan country have we had military exercises before?” I am very curious about this. Against whom are we going to do the military exercises? Do we plan to lead them against Greece or Bosnia-Herzegovina? What kind of doubt will this create in Kosovo? Çeviköz asked.

“In other words, are we aware of the type of agreement that we have signed, of the type of path we have taken, of the type of country image that we have created,” he added.

Lawmaker Gülüstan Kılıç Koçyiğit said Turkey’s conduct of exercises with Serbia will end Turkey’s mediating role in future crises. “We are engaged in military cooperation, so we will conduct military exercises. When a possible problem arises tomorrow, how will you intervene, how will you contribute to peace in the region? With this agreement, peace in the region is threatened, ”she added.

Turkey-Serbia Military Framework Agreement

The representative of the Ministry of Defense at the meeting, Brigadier. General Esat Mahmut Yılmaz somewhat corrected Kıran’s presentation that the military cooperation agreement signed with Serbia in 2004 has been made more effective with the addition of joint exercises and training. He said the purpose of military framework agreements is to determine the legal infrastructure and cooperative principles of other low-level agreements in the future. He asserted that the framework agreement with Serbia is not legally binding and does not include any obligations; therefore, this is not a specific exercise or transaction. However, the general tacitly agreed that military exercises between Turkey and Serbia could be carried out with reference to this agreement.

Opposition MPs also noted the uncertainty over the security of military documents and their sharing with third parties, unlike similar agreements in the past, criticizing that it was not specified that the military and students visiting Turkey would not enjoy diplomatic immunity.

Kıran also did not clarify what is meant by cooperation in the defense industry with Serbia in the region where Turkey is a strategic partner with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo. It is not possible for those countries, which have serious problems with Serbia, not to react negatively to the development of Serbia’s military and defense capabilities with Turkey’s contributions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić had previously revealed his interest in purchasing arms, equipment and weapons from Turkey. “Our experts have expressed interest in purchasing certain weapons, equipment and weapons from Turkey, and we have simultaneously expressed our wish to participate in the transfer of technology and the establishment of joint defense industry companies.” Vučić said in his speech during the official signing ceremony of several agreements including the military framework in 2019.

Additionally, in 2020, Vucic confirmed that Serbia is very interested in purchasing the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle. “We are very interested in UAV systems and we will certainly secure more of them in the future. We will see if we can come to an agreement with Turkey. In any case, they are very good drones. I must congratulate the Turkish manufacturers, ”he said.

President Erdoğan and his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vučić.

It is no secret that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his family members and associates benefit enormously from the defense industry and the sales of military goods. Turkish military drones, which have made a name for themselves in recent years in several combat zones including Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, are also produced by Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar. Bayraktar and his company not only profit from all state facilities, but also make high profits in the local and international market through the sale of arms, for which the only decision-maker is his father-in-law.

An important reason for choosing Turkish drones is that Turkey does not have a long export approval process. unlike the United States and the European Union.

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