Turkish FM snubs Syrian jet ban

Turkish FM snubs Syrian jet ban

DAMASCUS - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish FM snubs Syrian jet ban

Turkish FM Davutoğlu (R) chats with German FM Westerwelle (C) and the envoy to the Syria Brahimi before discussing Syria crisis in Istanbul. EPA photo

Turkey’s foreign minister downplayed Syria’s decision to ban Turkish airplanes from its airspace, saying “Their statement has no importance at all.”

In response to a question about recent statements from Russian leaders about material found aboard a Syrian plane forced to land by Turkish authorities, Davutoğlu said the examination of the shipment is carried out very carefully. Expressing his intention not to create a public quarrel with Russian officials, the minister said it was clear who the sender and receiver of the shipment were, adding “There is no need to discuss this.”

Syria banned Turkish passenger flights from its airspace beginning at midnight on Oct. 14, in a retaliatory move after Turkey confiscated a cargo of what Russia said was radar equipment en route from Moscow to Damascus. Turkey has said its airspace remains open to Syrian civilian flights. Turkey had stopped using Syrian airspace for flights since Oct. 10.

Washington supported to Turkey on the issue. “We have no doubt that this was serious military equipment,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. “The policy is still morally bankrupt.”

PM criticizes UN Security Council

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for reform of the U.N. Security Council to help resolve the crisis, after Russia and China have repeatedly used their veto powers to block resolutions condemning Syria.

“It’s time to change the structure of international institutions, starting with the U.N. Security Council,” Erdoğan told reporters, calling for “wider, fairer and more effective representation.”
“There’s an attitude that encourages and gives the green light to Assad to kill dozens or hundreds of people every day,” Erdoğan said.

After meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Istanbul, Davutoğlu said again that Turkey would not tolerate any further border incidents. “We will strike back without hesitation if we believe Turkey’s national security is in danger,” Davutoğlu said on Oct. 13. Westerwelle reiterated Germany’s support, also calling on Turkey to “show moderation.”

After holding meetings in Turkey on Oct. 13, U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi headed to Iran, where he is scheduled to meet with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior officials.
On the ground in Syria, at least 181 people were killed nationwide on Oct. 13 -- 71 civilians, 63 soldiers and 47 rebels, according to activists, agence France-Presse reported. A Syrian regime warplane was shot down near Aleppo, according to activists and rebels. Syrian government forces have dropped Russian-made cluster bombs over civilian areas in the past week as they fight to reverse rebel gains on a highway, Human Rights Watch said.