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memri
April 24, 2018 No.
7441

AKP Mouthpiece Yeni Safak: Turkey Is Neither Pro-NATO, Nor Pro-Russia

Hasan Öztürk the editorial writer for the ruling AKP's mouthpiece Yeni Safak wrote an article, titled "We Are Neither Pro-Russia, Nor Pro-NATO; We Are Turkish, Thank God," discussing Ankara's relations with the West and with Russia.

The Turkish editorialist opined that punishing Assad was not the main objective behind the U.S.-U.K.-France strike in Syria, but rather driving a wedge between Turkey and Russia. It should be noted that, on April 14, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that the operation carried out by Washington, London and Paris was "an appropriate response to the chemical attack which caused the deaths of many civilians in Douma on 7 April." The Turkish Ministry then added: "We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime."[1]

Ankara's statement created disappointment in Moscow, but nevertheless, on the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan conversed by phone. Russia’s president underlined that the bombing was a gross breach of the UN Charter and fundamental norms and principles of international law. The Kremlin also pointed out that Russia and Turkey should intensify bilateral cooperation, aimed at the meaningful promotion of a political solution in Syria.[2]

However, on the same April 14, Erdogan also took a phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron. In their conversation, the Turkish President reiterated that Turkey condemns the use of chemical weapons and added that the Assad regime's massacres via both chemical and conventional weapons had to be prevented.[3]

On April 16, Macron declared that with the strike on Syria, Washington, London, and Paris "separated Turkey and Russia." A riposte by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu soon followed.[4]

At a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu stated that Ankara's relations with Moscow were not an alternative to its ties with the West, and then added that Turkey's ties with Russia are not so weak that the French President can break them.[5]

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also commented on Macron's statement. Peskov said: "No, these strikes did not split us. It's no secret that the positions of Moscow and Ankara differ on a number of issues. At the same time, this does not prevent us from continuing to exchange views, to continue discussing this difference in positions."[6]

Öztürk stressed that Turkey's alliances with NATO and with Russia are in both cases merely tactical and based only on realpolitik. He underlined: "We stand neither next to Russia, nor next to the U.S. We stand next to the nation, Turkey's interests and Turkey's perpetuity."

Below are excerpts from Öztürk's article:[7]


(Source: Hasan Öztürk)

The Goal Of The U.S.-U.K.-France Strike In Syria Was To 'Sour Ties' Between Turkey And Russia

"French President Emmanuel Macron spilled the beans. 'When we hit the Damascus regime, this separated Russia and Turkey. Turkey found the missile attacks positive,' he said.

"Yes, Turkey found the U.S., U.K. and France's missile intervention against Bashar Assad's chemical attacks 'positive.'

"But there were sentences before and after this statement. For example, it was said, 'Blood is being shed in Syria for the last seven years, where was your mind when Assad has been killing his people for seven years?' For example, it was said, 'You intervene when he kills with chemical weapons, but why don't you intervene when he kills with conventional weapons?'

"In other words, when evaluated without looking at what was said before and after, it seems like Turkey accepts the U.S., U.K. and France's missile intervention aimed at the Damascus regime 'unconditionally.'

"No, it's not like that.

"But they take it the way it works for them, what can we do?

"One of their aims is to sour ties between Turkey and Russia.

"One of the things that is to their advantage after striking Damascus is the souring of ties between Turkey and Russia, which is currently working in coordination with Syria. Macron spilled the beans anyway. What he said is, 'We hit Assad. Turkey found the intervention positive. This means a fall out between Russia and Turkey.'

"It appears that this was also one of their aims. Perhaps this was the actual aim…

"At this stage, we need to pursue a question like: 'Is it not an important step to stop the bloodshed for Turkey and Russia to meet on common ground regarding Syria? Or, is it not right for Turkey to work together with Russia for its perpetuity while taking steps in relation to northern Syria, which it considers a threat?'

"The moment we say 'yes' in response to this question, we are accused of being 'pro-Russian' or 'pro-Eurasia' – and by close circles at that.

"Yet, how quickly have we forgotten that the U.S. supplied the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), with 5,000 truckloads of weapons? How quick have we forgotten that when we entered al-Bab, the U.S., which wanted to stop Turkey through Daesh terrorists, postponed the Raqqa operation and overlooked the terrorists there coming to al-Bab.

'Assad Is A Killer' And 'Russia Has Spilled As Much Blood' As The Syrian Regime

"For God's sake, how quick have we forgotten that the tunnels Turkish soldiers found when Mount Burseya [in the north-east of Afrin] fell were built to NATO standards?

"Did we forget July 15 [on 15 July 2016, a coup d'état was attempted in Turkey], the tunnels in Mount Burseya and the 5,000 truckloads of weapons?

"We could not have forgotten July 15, could we? Nor the role NATO's U.S. had assumed back in those days?

"What we have been saying from the very beginning is: Assad is a killer. Assad is a tyrant. Russia, which Assad called to Syria, has spilled at least as much blood as Assad and caused as much pain as Assad. Just like Iran. Just like the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

"However, there is one truth, and that is that the U.S. and its allies have set up the Syria front in a way that will directly include Turkey.

"After the downing of the Russian jet, let alone using Syria's airspace, hadn't we been unable to fly even on the Turkey side of the Syria border?

"Didn't our Syria policy overlap with U.S. policies until Aug. 9, 2016 (This is the date President Recep Tayyip Erdogan directly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia. It is also the date the public vigil at the squares was ended after the July 15 coup attempt)?

"As a matter of fact, were there not figures in Ankara who even protected the terror corridor formed by the PYD/YPG-PKK in northern Syria, something we continue to see as an issue of perpetuity?

"Back then, neither pro-NATO sentiment nor pro-U.S. sentiment was being discussed.

"We stand neither next to Russia, nor next to the U.S. We stand next to the nation, Turkey's interests and Turkey's perpetuity.

"Today, Turkey's interests was to ensure a ceasefire between Russia and Iran in Syria, to form a safe zone, to stop the terror corridor in Turkey's south regardless of what it cost.

"Had there been no mutual understanding with Russia, neither the Euphrates Shield nor the Olive Branch operation could have been conducted.

"And some foolish people are accusing us of being 'pro-Russia' with such a realpolitik.

"You cannot call this 'pro-Russia sentiment' or 'pro-Eurasia sentiment.' This is called being Turkish, being local. This is called balance. Turkey and Russia have a mutual understanding. Yet, old strategic partners are recently experiencing deep differences in views.

"What we need to do at this point is to protect our 'nafs.' What we identify as the nafs is our homeland, our nation, our future.

"Otherwise, we are not pro-Russia, pro-NATO or pro-U.S."

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7429, Ibrahim Karagül, Editor-In-Chief Of AKP Mouthpiece 'Yeni Safak': Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition Does Not Exist; Turkey Should Build A 'Shield From The Mediterranean To The Iranian Border' To Prepare For Upcoming New World Order War, April 16, 2018.

No: 105, Press Release Regarding the Military Operation Against Certain Points in Syria by the US, the UK and France, Mfa.gov.tr, 14 April 2018.

[2] Tass.com, April 14, 2018.

[3] Dailysabah.com, April 14, 2018.

[4] Dailysabah.com, April 16, 2018.

[5] Dailysabah.com, April 16, 2018.

[6] Dailysabah.com, April 16, 2018.

[7] Yenisafak.com, April 17, 2018.