Turkey has been living among the ring of fire for a long time given its geographic position. No doubt, the on-going conflict in Syria has been escalating at a great pace as new players have entered the stage. Even though she did not want to get involved in the clashes in Syria, she has been compelled to be part of it as she considered a way to protect civilians. Turkey is showing her intention in helping the civilians by hosting 2.5 million people fleeing from the war zones and continuing to receive newcomers with patience and enthusiasm.
November 24th we were hit with a very unexpected incident, which rose tensions in the area and especially between Turkey and our long-lasting friend, neighbor and strategic partner since the declaration of the Republic of Turkey: Russia.
It should be noted that Turkey is against all kinds of tension and conflict within the region. Yet, it has faced very severe terrorist acts recently in advance of the June and November elections. The latter one was witnessed at the center of our capital Ankara, which has been labeled as the deadliest terror act seen in Turkey’s history. With its new cabinet announced yesterday, Turkey will to resolve the situation both within the country and in the region where it acts as one of the key players.
We wish from the very bottom of our heart that no conflicts take place, no combat aircrafts hover around our skies, no more killings of innocent people and peace to prevail. Despite everything, this situation can be solved by mutual talks and understanding and no sane person wants conflict, the world has already innumerable wars throughout history.
The unwanted incident between Turkey and Russia was not something any of us would be in favor of. Yet, Turkish President Erdogan showed his discontent in a reconciliatory statement: “We regret having witnessed this, but sad to say we are experiencing the pain of it having happened.” The Prime Minister Davutoglu made similar statements indicating that Turkey does not have any intention of escalating tensions between her neighbor Russia and has also emphasized during the AK Party Group Meeting that Russia has been one of the states Turkey has been sensitive about sustaining the relations for the last 13 years. No doubt, the declarations of both leaders are very sensitive and mild to make sure that our friendship is not harmed. Evidently, Turkey would not do anything intentional that would jeopardize our centuries old friendship with Russia.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to raise tensions due to the unwelcome incident between Turkey and Russia yesterday, but should be evaluated with moderation and tranquility. To better comprehend the development of this undesirable act, we need to go back to June 22, 2012 when an F4 jet from the Malatya air base was shot down by Syria without warning that resulted with the death of two Turkish pilots. Consequently, Turkish Armed Forces changed the rules of engagement with regards Syria that any military vehicle approaching the Turkish border from Syria would be treated as a military target. Thus, the undesired incident at issue was a consequence of the rules of engagement.
Nevertheless, it is by no means possible for us to consent to a procedure like engagement that is very likely to result in death and that jeopardizes the pilots and the people on the ground, as well. We should always be mindful of diplomatic means to solve issues vis a vis border security as it is certainly important for the protection of the citizens. According to international law, this regrettable incident is considered to be between NATO and Russia. In this present case, NATO has called all parties to be cautious and contribute to reducing tensions as Stoltenberg stated the importance of the situation but also hoped for renewed contacts between Turkey and Russia. Furthermore, President Erdogan reiterated this morning in the meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) "We have no intention to escalate this incident… Turkey is not on the side of tension, crisis and animosity."
We have always stated the importance of Russian collaboration with Turkey in terms of peace and security in the Middle East via our articles that appeared in international media and via live television appearances. During the crisis that Russia has been involved, including the recent Ukraine conflict, we have repeatedly stated that Russia should not be isolated by the world. It is of grave importance to give thought of what was stated in one of my previous articles: “If there is one lesson be learned from the sufferings from the 19th century to the present, it is that you cannot build happiness on the unhappiness of other societies. The region cannot be happy if Russia is unhappy. We cannot feel secure if Russia is insecure. The days of saying, "It does not matter what happens to others as long as we are strong' are over. Now is the time to advocate the principle of, 'Let us all be happy and safe and at ease,' without excluding anyone...”
Turkish people have never been an aggressive society and never have acted as an aggressor. On the contrary, they cherish the love and bonds they have with their friends. Tensions, unwanted incidents might occur from time to time, but they are temporary, whereas love of two friends is permanent. Turkish people made this clear yesterday on Twitter, when we started two hashtag campaigns to counter the negative propaganda trying to be imposed on both people. As soon as the hashtags were published, Turks immediately picked them up and made them the top trending topics. These were: 'TürkiyeRusya Kardeştir,' 'TurkeyRussia Brothers', “Турция Россия Братья” in Turkish, English and Russian respectively.
We would deeply appreciate the support of President Putin and other top Russian officials that will assist us to pass this sensitive process with kind and reconciliatory comments. It must be remembered that Turkish people have always loved, and embraced Russian people and considered this friendship as a valuable gift and Russians have always returned this love with equal fervor. To ensure that this friendship stays strong, the parties, especially the leaders of both countries, should continue this loving spirit of their people, shut down the provocative rhetoric and embrace a calm approach to peacefully close this subject. This is especially important when the ties between these two old friends are at stake. To turn the world into a place where people want to live in peace, we need such initiatives, and these days are great opportunities for self-sacrifice.