Turkey cool to special US X-ray machine at ?zmir"s port
Turkey has been rather cool toward an American proposal to install a special X-ray machine at ?zmir's Alsancak Port to check containers destined for the United States, with one Turkish official arguing that there already is an X-ray machine to do the job.
While the ?zmir Customs Department noted its support for the American X-ray facility to cut down the time it takes for Turkish goods to reach U.S. markets, officials in Ankara are against it.
The United States has already installed similar devices operated by its own technicians in 17 European countries and approached Turkey to install the machine at Alsancak Port, the main shipping center for Turkish exports to the United States.
?zmir Customs Director Naz?m Bütün said they had met with U.S. officials a few times to assess the matter and had agreed to back the proposal. ?Containers from ?zmir are being kept in the port at New York for too long and a fee is paid for the inspection of the ship there. There is a loss of both time and money. If the United States installs its machine, American officials will check the ships destined for the United States with the permission of Turkish officials or together with them. They would also place a security stamp on checked containers so that no time is lost at ports in the United States,? he said.
He said the cost of the machine was around $2 million and all U.S. ports recognize the security stamp.
Bütün said if the machine was not installed it would not mean an end to Turkish export to the United States, but argued that with the machine exports would increase.
?There are some who argue against giving the United States the right to install the machine because customs areas are directly linked to a state's sovereignty. However, the United States is seeking permission and the inspections are only carried out if the host country agrees,? he said.
Turkey does what is necessary:
An official from the Customs Department in Ankara noted that the inspection hangar and an X-ray machine had already been installed at Alsancak Port, as well as in the ports in Istanbul, Mersin, Samsun and Gürbulak.
?What good would another X-ray machine do? We made the investment and the European Union sees the current system as successful. For the United States, this is a security issue but we also have security concerns. We need to be careful of terrorism and drug trade. In 2001, 343 kilograms of heroin was seized at customs points. In 2007, after hiring additional personnel and opening new points, we seized 2.7 tons of heroin. We are exporting our own system and installing a similar one in Azerbaijan. Turkey sets the standard in customs security in the region,? the official who wished to remain anonymous said.
The system installed at customs points have cost the department around 76.5 million euros since 2003, with most of the funds being provided by the European Union.