By Selcuk Gultasli, Riga

Zaman Online, Turkey
Nov 30 2006

Attended by representatives from 26 countries, the NATO summit in
Riga was marked by Turkey's decision to reinforce its presence within
the NATO Response Force (NRF) by committing an additional 300 troops
to Afghanistan.

Other countries like France, Spain and Germany also decided to
contribute troops and materiel, such as helicopters, to meet the
needs of The NATO Response Force.

The NRF was envisaged to be "fully operational" with 25,000 troops
in accordance with decisions made at the Prague summit in late 2002.

The NRF launched its activities with nearly 6,000 troops in 2004. It
has the ability to be mobilized in 15-30 days in cases of crisis
and emergencies.

The Land Forces Command of the NRF will be assumed by Turkey for six
months, effective from the beginning of 2007. During this period,
the Turkish Armed Forces will keep land forces totaling 3,000 troops
ready for the NRF at all times.

A final declaration by the NATO Summit, referring to the Alliance of
Civilizations initiated jointly by Turkey and Spain, announced that
NATO supported the endeavor.

NATO leaders also indirectly touched upon the occupation of
Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia, among other conflicts. The statement,
which expressed regret over the ongoing regional clashes in the
Southern Caucasus, stressed that NATO supported the territorial
integrity of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldavia.

NATO also allowed Bosnia and Herzegovina to participate in the NATO
Partnership for Peace (PfP) initiative. As such, the door was opened
for Bosnia-Herzegovina's membership to NATO.

A NATO policy document, which has been under discussion for the last
six months, was approved, and made public at the Riga Summit. The
document, which includes the strategies the alliance will pursue in
the coming 10-15 years, is significant since it reflects NATO's will
and determination to become a more "global" force.

The document urges NATO should adapt itself to changing circumstances,
and notes that the organization should acquire the capability to
send forces to anywhere in the world for long periods of times. It
specifically underlines the necessity of NATO's ability to address
terrorist threats.

Another important development during the summit was French President
Jacques Chirac's opposition to the United States' vision of NATO.

The French leader, who did not want NATO to become "a global gendarme"
beyond its traditional boundaries within the Euro-Atlantic cooperation,
openly expressed his concerns during the summit.

NATO should not lose its military characteristic in the transformation
process and the alliance should not be turned into a political
organization, a likely rival to the UN, Chirac said.