Turkey anticipates non-combat role in CAR mission
Friday, March 14, 2014
BRUSSELS – Turkey has said it is in favor of assisting an EU mission to the conflict-torn Central African, but only with technical aid and non-combatant forces.
Ankara is awaiting a finalized list of requirements from Brussels on what type of aid is required before committing to the project, Turkish diplomatic sources have said.
According to the same sources, Turkey tends to provide logistical support and technical equipment rather than contributing militarily, preferring to send non-combatant troops as it did with its mission to Afghanistan.
The European Union is preparing to send around 800-1,000 troops to the African country following a foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels. However, commander of the EU mission, French Major General Philippe Ponties, said he would not recommend authorizing deployment before military and technical shortages were addressed, EU sources say.
The Central African Republic descended into anarchy one year ago when mainly Muslim 'seleka' rebels removed President Francois Bozize, a Christian who came to power in a 2003 coup. The rebels later installed Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, as interim president.
Since then, the country has been plagued by tit-for-tat sectarian violence between Christian militias and former seleka fighters.
Christians, who account for the majority of the country's population, accuse Muslims of supporting former rebels who are accused of attacking Christian citizens.
European countries which have confirmed their contribution to the mission are Estonia, Latvia and Portugal, under French leadership. Outside the EU, only Georgia said it would participate. The European Union has also asked Canada, Norway, Serbia and the U.S. for assistance, as well as Turkey.
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