PM: 'Turkey not to start war'
|Publisher||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty|
|Publication Date||4 October 2012|
|Cite as||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, PM: 'Turkey not to start war', 4 October 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5073cc76c.html [accessed 2 June 2015]|
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 04.10.2012 12:53
Turkey says it has no intention of starting a war, after parliament approved military action in response to Syria's deadly shelling on Turkish soil.
Speaking at a news conference on October 4, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "We want peace and security and nothing else. We could never be interested in something like starting a war."
But he also ensured that his country was "capable of defending its citizens and borders," adding: "Nobody should try and test our determination on this subject."
Earlier in the day, Turkish lawmakers approved a bill giving the government authority for one year to send troops into Syria or carry out air strikes.
The decision followed an emergency session after artillery shelling from Syria killed five civilians, including two women and three children, in the Turkish border town of Akcakale on October 3.
Turkey has already retaliated, launching artillery bombardments against targets inside Syrian border areas – marking the first time it has fired into Syria during the 18-month-long unrest against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
In New York, Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the Syrian government "is not seeking any escalation with any of its neighbors, including Turkey."
Reading to reporters a letter he delivered to the UN Security Council which sent Syria's "deepest condolences" to the families of the victims and to Turkey, Ja'afari said: "Deepest condolences of the government of Syrian Arab Republic were presented to the families of the martyrs and to the friendly and brotherly people of Turkey. In cases of border incidents that happen between any two neighboring countries, states and governments should act wisely, rationally, and responsibly."
But Ja'afari said the letter did not include an apology because the investigation of the incident has not been completed.
The UN Security Council strongly condemned the mortar strike and demanded that "such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated."
Earlier, Russia, an ally of Assad, had blocked a draft statement proposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey which condemned the Syrian shelling "in the strongest terms," calling it a "violation of international law."
Meanwhile, NATO stated that it "continues to stand by [fellow member] Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally."
That comes after NATO held an emergency meeting at the request of Turkey late on October 3 to inform the alliance of Syria's artillery attack.
Barbara Zanchetta, a security expert at the Geneva Center for Security Policy in Switzerland, says Ankara is building a case for asking its NATO allies to support it should Turkey ultimately opt for military action against Syria.
But she says such support, which must be given by consensus among the other NATO members, is not likely to be forthcoming soon.
"Turkey has clearly said this is an act of aggression and at the same time I think what the NATO secretary-general and Secretary Clinton and others have said is that they have expressed support for Turkey but they have been far from saying that they would actually become directly involved," Zanchetta said.
The Turkish town of Akcakale has been fired on from Syria several times over recent weeks.
In June, Syrian government forces fired on a Turkish military jet which crashed into the sea with the loss of two pilots.
In the past, the Turkish military has moved into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa