Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA photo
Responding strongly to Iranian officials’ repeated condemnations of NATO’s planned deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
said on Dec. 18 that Iran
should first of all warn Syria to put an end to the bloodshed of its own people.
“The Patriot system is a defensive system and it does not operate as long as there is no attack against the country [where it is deployed],” Davutoğlu said at a joint press conference with Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, stressing that similar explanations about the Patriot system’s nature had been repeatedly made both by himself and by NATO
His remarks came in response to a question regarding the recent statements from Iranian officials charging that the deployment of Patriots is a provocative act against regional peace.
Doing whatever it takes to protect itself by using both national capacities and opportunities provided by being a member of an international organization is Turkey’s unquestionable right, Davutoğlu said.
“Our expectation from Iran
is not for it to deliver statements on the arrival of this defensive system, but instead for it to give a very clear and sharp message to the Syrian regime. It should use of its weight to help end the oppression in Syria,” Davutoğlu said.
“The Syrian regime constantly tyrannizes its own people, uses its air forces against its own people, and has in the past violated Turkey’s borders many times. It has thus made many provocative actions against Turkey,” he said.
“Now the time has come for Iran
to give a clear message to the Syrian regime. Today, if there is an element threatening regional peace it is the aggressive policy followed by the Syrian regime,” Davutoğlu added.
NATO agreed this month to send Patriot missiles to Turkey to protect its ally against possible attack from neighboring Syria, where a 21-month-old civil war is still raging. Turkey has harbored a number of Syrian rebels and over 100,000 refugees, while there have been incidents of Syrian gunfire hitting Turkish territory.
On Dec. 15, the joint chief of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said the Patriot deployment was part of a plot to “create a world war.”
“The Patriot missiles are threatening. Each one of them is a black dot on the map, [setting the stage] to create a world war,” he said. “This is very dangerous for everyone, and even for the future of Europe.”
On Dec. 17, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cancelled a planned visit to Turkey just a day after his foreign minister had also warned Ankara
against hosting the U.S.-made missiles.
“The deployment of Patriot missiles will achieve nothing but provocation and, God forbid, result in others being forced into uncalculated actions,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in remarks reported by the official IRNA news agency.
“Their deployment is more of a provocation than a deterrent,” he said, adding they would not “help regional security.”
Hours before Davutoğlu’s press conference, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) warned that Turkey and Iran
should use careful language with each other and should engage in constructive dialogue to eliminate disagreements.
“In order not to have troubles in relations between the two neighboring countries that may lead to an unnecessary escalation, both parties should act responsibly and moderately. It should not be forgotten that an improvement in Turkey-Iran relations would also contribute to the resolution of problems in the region,” CHP
Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu said in a statement.