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No new mandate needed: AWACS flights over Turkey


Schröder: No new parliamentary mandate needed for AWACS flights over Turkey

Speaking in parliament on March 19, Chancellor Schröder said NATO AWACS planes carry out routine surveillance flight to monitor the air space over Turkey, a NATO member, and in this role do not provide any support for missions in or against Iraq.

Speaking in the German Bundestag on March 19 Chancellor Gerhard Schröder reaffirmed his government's rejection of a military intervention in Iraq, saying it was a very normal consequence of this position that German forces would not be directly involved in any military action. He noted that this included German crew members on NATO AWACS planes as well as the German NBC defense forces in Kuwait.

No further parliamentary approval needed for AWACS flights over Turkey

Schröder said NATO AWACS planes are carrying out routine surveillance flights over Turkish territory on the basis of a decision taken by NATO's Defence Planning Committee on February 19 this year. Their sole mission is strictly defensive surveillance of the air space over Turkey. Based on NATO's rules of engagement they cannot provide any support for missions in or against Iraq, Schröder noted. Given that these AWACS planes are under NATO command in Europe (SACEUR) there is a clear dividing line between their tasks and those of the US Central Command under General Franks. Schröder noted in this connection that General Franks has nearly 100 AWACS aircraft of his own for military operations against Iraq. He said that since NATO planes are flying under NATO command, at a different geographical location, and with an entirely different mission, i.e. to monitor and safeguard Turkish air space, his government is convinced that there is no need for further parliamentary approval.

Schröder indicated that the mission of the German NBC defense forces in Kuwait is specifically limited. They are acting on the basis of a parliamentary decision in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This is the sole mandate for these forces. They, too, will not be involved in offensive action against Iraq, Schröder said. Part of their mandate involves providing humanitarian assistance in Kuwait. For this reason the German NBC defense force carry out joint exercises with Kuwaiti forces. There is a mandate for this so it will not be necessary to obtain a new mandate in this case either, Schröder noted.

Overflight rights will not be denied to NATO partners

With regard to protecting US assets, using US bases in Germany, as well as granting overflight rights Schröder said the stance taken by the German government on the Iraq conflict did not change the fact that the United States and Great Britain are alliance partners and friends. The alliance provides rights but it also imposes obligations. These obligations follow from the provisions of the North Atlantic Treaty and various status-of-forces agreements. Schröder reaffirmed that the German government would continue to respect these agreements. He said there may be differing positions on this in international law, but in light of Germany's alliance obligations the German government would continue to allow the use of US bases and not deny overflight rights. He added that it went without saying that American assets would be protected and - to the extent possible - also the families of military personnel living in Germany.

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