If those planes take off and do not strike
On the day when Israel hit the Mavi Marmara flotilla, do you remember the declaration of our Foreign Ministry as sharp as a needle?
What did it say to Israel and the entire world?
“The law and order of this region of the Mediterranean is our responsibility. Look, I’m telling you for the last time: If you again intercept aid ships heading to Gaza, then you will find the Turkish navy and planes before you.”
What happened next?
Aid ships departed again. The Israeli navy and planes again interfered and sent them back.
Some people take advantage of this and provoke the government. I will never do this. On the contrary, I will say: “If the Turkish navy has not raised anchor and not confronted Israel, rejoice. Be delighted because you should know that in Turkey, wisdom and reason are still governing.”
Because of this, I am addressing everyone: “Do not provoke the prime minister and the government.”
Syria has crashed our plane. Do you remember that day? Our foreign minister was at a live transmission at TRT and looked us in the eye to say what?
“Rules of engagement have changed. If Syria comes as close as this many miles, we will hit it.” The guy came and hit our residential areas; five of our citizens lost their lives. We fired a few artilleries. Their influence did not even rival our words.
Any action was limited to words; any engagement was up on the shelf. The guy, this time, sent his MIG planes. He hit right under our nose.
Our jets took off. What did they do? Just took off. The engagement was again only in words. We sent a note instead of a plane.
The note was so effective that the next day the guy sent his planes again to the same spot.
Our planes again took off. But just took off.
Certain people again started scratching, “Where are the engagement rules?”
I am, nevertheless, saying the same thing. “Don’t do it, don’t agitate.”
If those planes are taking off and not hitting, then don’t worry, be happy.
Don’t provoke, just applaud.
If the skies are stormy and thundering, but not raining…
Note this, not as a weakness of Turkey, but as just the opposite, as the power of wisdom and reason. Because of this, do not agitate, do not force, do not drive into a corner and do not try to score from this.
Don’t forget, the worst thing that can happen to this country is entering a war alone.
Is the Foreign Ministry still behind the Syrian people?
“Show time folks.” Let’s remember that day again. Syria has crashed our plane. Our foreign minister is speaking in a live transmission on TRT. What does he say? “We will be behind the Syrian people until the end.”
He said exactly that. What does that mean? If we are behind the “Syrian People,” then the “Syrian people” are also right beside our side, right?
No, not right...
The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) issued a report recently about the perception of Turkey in the Middle East. The survey revealed that Turkey’s positive image in Middle Eastern countries has decreased compared to previous years. However, more significant was the situation in three of our neighbors we supposedly have “zero problems” with. The positive view of Turkey in Syria, Iraq and Iran had reversed. In all three of them, the people were complaining about Turkey’s intervening policies. That survey has demonstrated clearly that the “majority of the Syrian people are not behind Turkey.”
Well, how is the situation in our own house? A vast majority of the Turkish public, 70 percent, do not support the minister’s Syrian policies. Moreover, they are against it.
In short, the foreign minister is behind the Syrian people, but the Syrian people are not beside him. The minister is in front of Turkish people, but Turkish people are not behind him.
The Turkish people’s “psychological depth” policy is taking the place of the foreign minister’s “strategic depth” policy. When we say, “Turkey is a grand state,” it is not just words. The reason is that “a grand nation” is behind it, made of a reasonable and wise people.
Those people, today, are openly saying that the vote they gave does not mean full support to the foreign policy based on the dreams of a youthful time. Because each reasonable person knows that we have plenty of issues domestically and so it is better to be unruffled abroad.
I am sure that one of the persons who listen to that voice very carefully is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who closely monitors surveys. He knows Turkey very well, the country he has received 50 percent of its votes.
Ertugrul Özkök is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Nov.15. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.