Syria “clearly and exclusively” bears the responsibility for the downing of a Turkish military jet in international airspace over the Mediterranean, Ankara has said, as international support for Turkey increases.
“The downing of the Turkish plane without any warning is totally unacceptable and the responsibility for this attack clearly and exclusively lies with Syria,” a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said June 24. Turkey has said an F4 fighter jet was downed 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast in international waters, but crashed in Syrian territorial waters.
EU Minister Egemen Bađýţ yesterday said the downing of the warplane was set to become an international issue. “The attack on our plane is not solely a conflict between Turkey and Syria, but it is a matter of international diplomacy. … Turkey has not said its last word yet.” Bađýţ said the issue had aspects that would concern platforms such as the European Union, NATO and the United Nations, adding that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutođlu had acted attentively.
On the other hand, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek said Turkey was working to break the misinformation spread by Syria about the incident. “The international arena must be informed against Syrian lies. … Not distributing such [counter] information would create new problems,” he said, hinting at countermeasures.
EU not Supporting Military Action
Çiçek said Syria had hit Turkish planes intentionally in international air space. On the international arena, EU foreign ministers condemned Syria’s actions, but said the bloc would not support military action in the troubled country.
“What happened is to be considered very seriously [but] we do not go for any interventions,” the Associated Press quoted Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal as saying. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also urged calm. “I think it is still important that we continue to work on a political solution [to the Syrian crisis].”
“This plane was not carrying arms and was on a routine flight and was shot down. ... There was no prior warning, therefore this is completely unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. Ankara has called a meeting of NATO’s governing body today to discuss the incident.
A NATO official said the Turkish representative would inform his colleagues of what had happened. The envoys were expected to discuss Turkey’s concerns but would not decide on anything specific, said the official, who could not be named under standing rules.
EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the bloc would add another Syrian official and six firms and government institutions to its sanctions list. The list already includes over 120 individuals and nearly 50 institutions. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the attack “brazen and unacceptable” and said Washington would cooperate closely with Ankara to promote a transition in Syria. Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s executive committee has recommended suspending Syria’s membership.