A senior Turkish official said Monday that Ankara has asked NATO to consider Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish military reconnaissance plane last week an attack on the entire alliance.
“There is no doubt that Syrians deliberately targeted our plane in international airspace,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday, the Associated Press reported. “It was an extremely hostile action.”
NATO’s governing board, the North Atlantic Council, is due to meet Tuesday to discuss the incident. Turkey says Syria on Friday (June 22) shot down with no warning an unarmed Turkish RF Phantom reconnaissance jet, whose pilots have yet to be found. Syria later fired on a Turkish rescue plane sent to try to recover the pilots, Turkey said Monday.
(Syria claims it was acting in self-defense and that it did not know the plane’s national origins–charges Turkish officials bitterly refute.)
“No doubt, Turkey has made necessary applications with NATO regarding Article 4 and Article 5,” Turkey’s deputy premier Arinc said Monday, according to the AP.
Under NATO’s Article 4, “any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened,” a NATO spokeswoman told Agence France Press.
NATO Article 5 refers to an attack on the entire 28-member alliance, and has been invoked only once, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
“It should be known that within legality we will of course use all rights granted under international law until the end,” Arinc said, the AP report said. “This also includes self-defense. This also includes retaliation many-fold … The public should be assured.”
However, Arinc added, “We have no intention of going at war with anyone.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday spoke by phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about the incident, and there have since been further US-Turkish consultations.
“There was no warning to this aircraft,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told journalists at the State Department Monday. “It was just shot out of the sky. And that obviously is not in keeping with international norms in such incidents.”
Separately, a senior Turkish delegation on Monday canceled a planned visit to Washington this week to deal with the crisis.
(Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a meeting in Ankara June 24, 2012. Turkey accused Syria on Sunday of shooting down a military plane in international airspace without warning and called a NATO meeting to discuss a response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. REUTERS/Prime Minister’s Press Office/Kayhan Ozer/Handout)