4 July 2012
NATO's Standing Maritime Group 2, which currently hosts German, French and Turkish frigates as the immediate reaction force of the alliance, has docked in Istanbul as part of its regular port visits.
"Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is a high security force of the alliance. We are carrying out a maneuver in Istanbul as part of our mission to defense task against terrorism in the Mediterranean," Adm. Thorsten Kahler, top commander of the fleet, told a press briefing aboard German frigate, Bayern, docked off-coast of Istanbul's Sarayburnu.
Kahler said the fleet's Istanbul visit "had nothing to do" with the continuing violence in Syria and the latest incident between Turkey and its southern neighbor which saw the downing of a Turkish military plane by Syrian forces in international airspace late last month.
Kahler said the fleet would stay in Istanbul for three days before setting sale for the Mediterranean again.
Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States are the routine contributors to the fleet. It is usually deployed in the Mediterranean.