World Bulletin / News Desk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with opposition leaders on Sunday to discuss what measures to take after Syria shot down a Turkish military jet in the Mediterranean.
Erdoğan, accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, first met with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Speaking after the meeting, the CHP leader criticized the government's policy, saying: “It is obvious that the plane was deliberately downed by Syria. This attack was carried out in retaliation to the [Turkish] government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Turkish policy on Syria. … This incident cannot be forgotten and glossed over. … No one should test Turkey's power.”
Calling on the government to do what should be done within the boundaries of international law in the face of this “unacceptable attack,” Kılıçdaroğlu said he was not provided with information on what measures the government is planning to take.
Turkey said it would act decisively after one of its F4 jets was downed by Syria on Friday. Erdoğan is expected to announce measures during a speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Davutoğlu has said.
Erdoğan held meetings with other opposition parties, including Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş, later on Sunday at the Office of the Prime Ministry.
In statements prior to Sunday’s talks, political parties predominantly deemed the event “unacceptable,” while remaining cautious as to a retaliatory response over the attack.
CHP Deputy Chairman Faruk Loğoğlu emphasized on Saturday that until the causes of the incident are made clear Turkey should act with moderation.
“Syria has to be cautious. Nobody should forget that Turkish people act in unity and decisiveness in terms of protecting the nation’s rights,” Loğoğlu noted.
MHP Deputy Chairman Reşat Doğru maintained a similar approach, highlighting that Turkish political parties have to give a united response.
“It is impossible to accept such an event. If we do not give the required response on international platforms we could be faced with many problems in the coming period,” Doğru claimed, also deeming a direct assault to Syria undesirable.
Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici said Turkey should claim its rights within the scope of international law regarding the event. Destici questioned Syrian statements that the Turkish plane had first been tracked as an unidentified object entering Syrian airspace and that it was only later found to be a Turkish plane. “The fact that Syria shot down the plane without trying alternative ways [to get the plane out of the Syrian airspace] shows it is not an accident,” he said.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu refuted Syrian claims that the plane was hit in Syrian airspace, saying it was in international airspace when it was shot down.
Destici was also cautious regarding the stance of NATO and the US: “First of all, the sincerity of US, NATO and the UN has to be tested in this event, and the steps that they take should be read carefully. After that Turkey should give the required answer. Otherwise it will lose its regional and international reputation on a grand scale.”
Mehmet Bekaroğlu, Voice of the People Party (HAS) İstanbul provincial head, expressed concerns over the government’s Syria policy, anticipating that the event would lead to a conflict between Turkey and Syria.
“From the very beginning, we do not approve Syrian policies of government. What is happening in Syria has been treated as an internal issue of Turkey,” Bekaroğlu remarked.