Turkish Parliament approves sending troops to Lebanon

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The Turkish parliament approved the government's proposal for sending troops to Lebanon to take part in the UN-led peacekeeping operation. 533 MPs attended the voting session where 340 of them approved the proposal and 192 rejected. The troops are expected to departure by the end of this month or early October.

The Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey commented that "The required has been done. May it be good for the nation.". Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said "The framework of the proposal is planned to minimize the possible risks Turkish troops may face. After this parliamentary decision, it is our duty to support our soldiers to be sent and pray for them. I hope these discussions [regarding risks] will end after this decision".

Main opposition party leader Deniz Baykal and his party has opposed the decision. He said "This [discussion] has been beneficial as a chance to reflect opposition's understanding to the society". The other opposition party leader Erkan Mumcu emphasized the public reluctance about the mission and said "In the surveys, an average of 86%, in the least attended surveys around 74.6% of the participants have rejected the idea to send troops."

A well known Turkish international relations expert Prof. Huseyin Bagci, Lecturer at Middle East Technical University said "The approval of the proposal was the only chance". He also sees the risk for Turkish soldiers as "minute". However Derya Sazak, left wing columnist from daily Milliyet newspaper, is regarding the mission as risky.

The proposal's approval has been welcomed by U.S.

The proposal voted yesterday night will be passed to Turkish General Staff. Then the mission details including the number of soldiers to be sent will be clarified. This week, Turkish Foreign Ministry and General Staff personnel will meet to discuss technical details. According to sources, Turkish army will send not more than 1000 soldiers to the region by the end of this month or first week of October.

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