ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News)—The Aegean province of İzmir will be transformed into NATO’s land base, said Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul on Monday.
“The final shape of the planning is that Izmir will be the Land Force Command of NATO,” Gonul was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency in Antalya.
Izmir was hosting NATO’s air base and was one of the two headquarters, along with the one in Larissa, Greece, that NATO was considering shutting down last year as part of plans to tighten its command structure.
“We insisted on a restructuring, which will display Izmir’s international identity. Some work has been done, and we struggled. Now NATO’s land force command is moving to Izmir. Thus, instead of the air force, the land force will be in Izmir,” said Gonul.
He said the number of personnel at the base would not change very much.
“It has not yet been submitted to decision-making mechanisms,” said Gonul. “But according to the plans, NATO’s Air Force will be based in Izmir.” The new plan will be discussed at the NATO’s meeting of defense ministers on June 8 and 9.
Izmir is also playing a critical role in the undertaking of NATO’s mission in Libya, acting as the center for operations monitoring the no-fly zone in crisis-stricken North African country.