Tehran nixes threats on Turkey over shield
ANKARA / TEHRAN
DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZran has dismissed comments from its own officials to target a NATO missile shield in eastern Turkey if the Islamic republic is threatened by the West, Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.
“We reject those views completely,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview, adding that those who had made the irresponsible statements had been warned. “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s official stance on Turkey is based on deep brotherhood and friendship,” he said, adding that only Iran’s supreme leader, president and foreign minister were able to pronounce on Iran’s official attitude on international matters and foreign policy. “Other statements are considered personal views,” he said. “Our relations with Turkey are at their best level ever from a political, economic and cultural perspective. More than 2 million Iranians visit Turkey each year, Salehi said. “There may be different views but that is natural. Turkey and Iran favor peace, stability and security in the region,” he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu thanked Salehi for his statement yesterday. “There was no tension in ties with Iran [over the statements of Iranian officials],” he told reporters. “Turkish-Iranian friendship is forever. No one can deny it.” Meanwhile, Turkey’s uneasiness over Iranian officials’ threats to hit the NATO radar system to be deployed in Turkey was expressed by Davutoğlu in speaking with Salehi on Dec. 13.
‘Turkey, not model for Arab spring countries’
Meanwhile, Iran has criticized Turkey’s secular system as an unsuitable example for countries in the Arab Spring, Financial Times reported. Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a press conference Dec. 13 that Turkey’s model of “secular Islam” was a version of Western liberal democracy and unacceptable for countries that he said were going through an “Islamic awakening.” “They [Iran] support Assad no matter what… They are not happy with the defense shield. They are not happy with us getting involved in Iraq or Syria,” a Turkish official said.
Earlier this month, an Iranian member of parliament, Hussein Ibrahimi, said it was Iran’s “right” to hit the missile shield. “Iran will definitely do that,” Ibrahimi told Iranian daily Sharq, according to Turkish media. Turkey in December conveyed its concern about the remarks of the Iranian commander to Salehi. “Certain circles, some of them knowingly and some others unknowingly, try to cause a conflict between our great nations and countries,” Salehi said. He also requested that the Turkish media “handle certain views in such a way that they would not hurt bilateral relations.” In November, the commander of the aerospace division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Tehran would target NATO’s missile shield in Turkey if it were threatened by military action, Agence France-Presse reported. “We are prepared to first target the NATO defense missile shield in Turkey if we are threatened. And then we’ll move on to other targets,” Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, Mehr news agency reported.