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MEHMET ALİ BİRAND

mab@hurriyet.com.tr

MEHMET ALİ BİRAND > A well-managed crisis has been overcome

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Last Friday, when there was only a very short time left before the Prime News on Kanal D, Deniz Arman (a colleague) called. He had been warning me about the lost plane all day long. “There are some strange signs in this business,” he was saying. At the end, some strange things did come out of the incident.

Initial reports and the first official statement were very complicated.

Our plane had entered Syrian territorial waters but it was not disclosed how much it had entered. How many planes were involved, it was not known. Syria, on the other hand, was raging; our officials, in turn, were assuming a humble attitude and calling for restraint. The public impression developed in such a way that we were playing it soft because we were not quite right.

You may say that the whole day Saturday was spent in this confusion.

I was also among those who said, “What are we doing in Syrian territory? If we go that far, then the Syrians indeed would hit us.”

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s interview at TRT clarified the situation. I also was able to see the whole picture more correctly. The confusion in the public ended.

In short, except for the first two days, Ankara managed the crisis very well.

It did not fuel expectations, it did not scream battle cries; it did not endeavor into business that would not give any results.

Especially when you review previous crises, the government adopted a calm stance and also immediately launched a campaign aimed at demonstrating to the international public that we are right.

If there are still people around you who are afraid that a war will erupt, tell them to let go. The hottest part of the crisis was over on Sunday with Davutoğlu’s speech. From now on, it will only be verbalism. However, we should not miss a point: This incident has shown that a clash with Syria can erupt any time.

Weekend prevented media screams
Again, there were some among us screaming battle cries. Again, there were silly comments made, not knowing much. There were the “warriors” who said a plane of ours was hit, so we should act immediately and we should “teach these guys their place.” However, in general, this time the media was somehow calmer.

Maybe because of the relaxation of the weekend, or maybe it was because of the softness of the signals coming from Ankara. No matter what, except a few, common sense generally prevailed. Especially if you compare it to past crises, this time the media stance was remarkable.

Some papers had fantastic front pages but other than that, the timeliest and the best broadcast was the Davutoğlu interview on Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).

The foreign minister was very convincing. Also, I think, more important was the person who conducted the interview, TRT News Executive Editor Ahmet Böken. As a matter of fact, Davutoğlu was so well prepared that there was no need for Böken to ask any questions. Despite that, with his intermediate questions he induced more explanations and contributed to the clarification of the situation.

This time, the reflexes of the news channels were also very good. As soon as the Davutoğlu interview started on TRT, all of them began live transmissions and afterward they continued with expert broadcasts. Among the channels, because it is my first love, I preferred CNNTürk.

The opposition for the first time was remarkable

The opposition also adopted a remarkable stance in this crisis. Naturally, the expectation of the public was that the opposition leader would drag the ruling party through the mud. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu was expected to accuse Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of humiliating the country. We have always been accustomed to that. No matter what happens, the habit of criticizing the government was not processed this time.

Kılıçdaroğlu took the first step. With his first statement, he acted extremely prudently and actually set the tone of the opposition. After him the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş followed.

As a matter of fact, this is what is supposed to be, but we have gotten so used to the cockfighting for years that we are surprised when we encounter a normal situation. Indeed, both the just position of Turkey and the government’s prompt briefing and informing efforts played an important role in this stance of the opposition.

Might it not have been an accident?
Why would Syria provoke Turkey? Al-Assad knows very well how sensitive we are about these incidents and that we are able to inflict major damage on them. He can imagine that a war with Turkey would also fuel the domestic opposition.

When seen like this, maybe we should consider the possibility that the incident was an accident. Let’s not forget, the history of the Syrian army is full of numerous wrong orders like this and misunderstandings caused by stray bullets.

June/26/2012

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suat yildirim

6/26/2012 10:13:02 AM

It is all very well question is what we are going to do about it. We just can't seat and wait for the others make a decision for us. We have to do some think that all the people watching us to know we are not a pushover . We must be firm on our response.
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