Skip to main content


NATO Support to Turkey


On 22 June 2012, a Turkish F-4 Phantom reconnaissance jet was intercepted and shot down by the Syrian Army in international airspace, while it was flying in international airspace some 15 minutes after momentarily straying into Syria's territory. The Turkish Government had requested that NATO augmented Turkey’s air defence capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey. On 4 December 2012, NATO Foreign Ministers agreed to this request: NATO Foreign Ministers’ statement on Patriot deployment to Turkey.  The "NATO Support to Turkey" defensive action started.

This LibGuide is intended to provide a few starting points to assist you with your research on issues related to Turkey and its relations with NATO and the EU as well as Turkish foreign and security policy. It contains English language and where available, French language material on issues related to these topics (no Turkish language).

NATO-Turkey Relations

Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and shortly after Turkish forces fought with the allies in Korea. During the Cold War, Turkey was a "wing country" under NATO's strategic framework, standing tough against the Soviet Union for decades.

Following the United States, Turkey has the second-largest number of troops in the alliance.

A selection of documents (published before 2012):

Turkey-NATO 60th Anniversary (2012):

The "NATO Support to Turkey" defensive action (2012):

  • The North Atlantic Council met in June 2012, following a request by Turkey under article 4 of NATO's founding Washington Treaty. NAC Statement on the shooting down of a Turkish aircraft by Syria (26 June 2012)
  • In view of the Syrian regime’s aggressive acts at NATO’s southeastern border - a flagrant breach of international law and a clear and present danger to the security of a NATO's Ally - the North Atlantic Council met again and discussed the continuous shelling of locations in Turkey adjacent to the Turkish-Syrian border by the Syrian regime forces. (North Atlantic Council statement on developments on the Turkish-Syrian border, 3 October 2012)
  • On the occasion of the crisis along NATO’s south-eastern border the NATO Secretary General received a letter in November 2012 from the Turkish government requesting the deployment of Patriot missiles. In this letter, the Turkish government stressed that the deployment would be defensive only, and that it would in no way support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.
  • On 4 december 2012, NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs agreed to augment Turkey’s air defence capabilities by deploying Patriot missiles at a meeting in Brussels. 
  • Three NATO Allies agreed to provide Patriot missiles to augment Turkey’s air defences: Germany, the Netherlands and the United States.
  • On the specific "NATO Support to Turkey" web page, you will find a timeline of events leading to NATO’s decision, a map of Patriot Batteries in Turkey, the Fact Sheet : PATRIOT DEPLOYMENT published on 20 February 2013, together with more stories and additional information about this defensive action.

The final of six Patriot missile batteries deployed to Turkey was declared operational under NATO command and control on 15 February 2013. (NATO, 16 February 2013)

In October 2014, during a visit to Ankara, Jens Stoltenberg, the new  NATO Secretary General, mentioned the events close to Turkey’s southern border and added: “ISIL poses a grave threat to the Iraqi people, to the Syrian people, to the wider region, and to NATO nations. So it is important that the whole international community stays united in this long-term effort. I welcome the decisive actions taken by the United States, with many Allies and partners. And I welcome the recent vote in the Turkish Parliament to authorize an even more active role of Turkey in the crisis”. (Source: "NATO Secretary General shows Alliance solidarity in Turkey", 9 Oct 2014). The following day, NATO Secretary General thanked Patriot crews protecting Turkey (NATO, 10 October 2014).

In January 2015, Spain joined Patriot missile defence mission in Turkey (NATO, 26 January 2015)

Between 13 and 14 May 2015, Turkey hosted the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting in the southern province of Antalya in order to discuss the Alliance’s adaptation in the face of a changed security environment. During this meeting, Ankara offered to assume the responsibility as a framework nation in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force for 2021. Turkey also announced that it would contribute to the new NATO trust fund for Defence Capacity Building, which was set up by the United Kingdom.

On 28 July 2015, the North Atlantic Council met at Turkey’s request and discussed the threats against Turkey.The NAC hold consultations under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty, which states that “the parties will consult whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the parties is threatened.” Following the meeting, the NAC stated that NATO would continue to follow the developments on the South-Eastern border of NATO very closely. "The security of the Alliance is indivisible, and we stand in strong solidarity with Turkey". See also: The consultation process and Article 4.

On 24 November 2015, after Turkey informed Allies about the downing of a Russian Air Force plane violating Turkish airspace, the North Atlantic Council held an extraordinary meeting. The NATO Secretary General stated: "we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO Ally, Turkey."

In the 2015 NATO Secretary General Annual Report, published in February 2016, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg offers an overview of the support NATO has been provided to Turkey over the last years (p. 57): "Since 2012, NATO has detected several hundred ballistic missile launches within Syria. The first Patriot missile batteries became operational under NATO command on 26 January 2013 with contributions from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. Currently Spain is providing a battery and will maintain its deployment throughout 2016. This deployment consists of approximately 150 troops."

NATO AWACS increases Assurance Measures to Turkey (SHAPE, 15 March 2016)

On the occasion of a visit to Turkey on 21 April 2016, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commended Turkey for its strong commitment to the Alliance. (NATO Secretary General thanks Turkey for long-standing contribution to the Alliance, 21 April 2016). On 28 June 2016, Jens Stoltenberg strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.

Following the failed coup in Turkey which occurred on 15 July 2016, NATO Secretary General expressed a brief statement (NATO Secretary General statement on events in Turkey, 16 July 2016). Later on, the NATO spokesperson, Oana Lungescu, also stated: "NATO counts on the continued contributions of Turkey and Turkey can count on the solidarity and support of NATO." (NATO, 10 August 2016).

During a two-day visit to Ankara, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: "NATO continues to stand in solidarity with Turkey, with increased naval and air presence, and with defensive missile systems on the border with Syria" (NATO, 8 September 2016). On the following day, Jens Stoltenberg added: "Turkey is a strong and valued member of our Alliance" (NATO, 9 September 2016 and Joint Press Conference, 9 September 2016)

After the twin attacks carried out in the centre of Istanbul on Saturday 10 December 2016 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described them as “horrific acts of terror”.  In the same press release he underlined: “We stand united in solidarity with our ally, Turkey.  We remain determined to fight terrorism in all its forms”.

On 13 March 2017, Jens Stoltenberg stated in his third Annual Report (p. 14): "Throughout 2016, NATO also continued its support to Turkey, augmenting Turkish air defence capabilities through the deployment of missile batteries. At the  Warsaw Summit, Allies agreed on the importance of implementing further assurance measures for Turkey. These include an increased AWACS presence in the region, a range of maritime activities, and air policing. The aim of the measures is to respond to the growing challenges from the south and contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole." (Source: Secretary General's Annual Report 2016)

Fact sheet - Augmentation of Turkey’s Air Defence (January 2017).

On first anniversary of coup attempt in Turkey, the NATO Secretary General made a statement: "I reiterate my strong message that any attempt to undermine democracy in any of our Allied countries is unacceptable." (Statement by the NATO Secretary General on first anniversary of coup attempt in Turkey, 15 July 2017)

"NATO is making good progress in facilitating a prospective visit of German parliamentarians to Turkey's Konya airbase on 8 September 2017" says Acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White on a visit to Konya airbase on 10 August 2017.

On 8 September 2017, NATO Deputy Secretary General led parliamentary delegation to Konya.

A selection of articles (more published analyses on NATO-Turkey relations can be found here (2017):

During her visit to the National Defence University in Istanbul, Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller highlighted Turkey’s vital role in NATO, calling NATO membership “a mutually beneficial relationship”.  Deputy Secretary General  Gottemoeller explained how “together, we reap the benefits of... enduring commitment to our collective defence.” (NATO, 23 January 2018).

A selection of articles published in 2018 (please also refer to this page):

Loading ...

Turkey and Its Evolving Foreign and Security Policy

Please refer to the Foreign Policy page by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey.

A selection of articles:

A greater selection of recent articles published in 2017 can be found here. For previous analyses, please go to the Articles Archive sub-pages.

Turkey has been a candidate since 1999 and negotiating for accession since 2005.

On 15 October 2015, The European Commission reached an agreement with Turkey on a Joint Action Plan to step up their cooperation on migration management in a coordinated effort to tackle the refugee crisis. In line with the conclusions of the EU -Turkey Joint Action Plan, the leaders of the European Union and Turkey made a statement on 29 November 2015 where they agreed that the accession process needed "to be re-energized". The statement also reflected their determination to cooperate on foreign policy and security.

A selection of analyses:

A greater selection of recent articles and reports can be found here (2009-2017).

Loading ...