ESSENTIAL BACKGROUND >> TURKEY CAN INVOKE NATO’S ARTICLE 5 FOR SYRIAN INTERVENTION
Trend News Agency May 11, 2012
Turkey: NATO Article 5 still at play in Syrian crisis
The possibility of invoking the right to military protection of Turkish borders against threats from Syria under Article 5 of the NATO charter is still on Turkey’s agenda, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said, Today’s Zaman reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Selcuk Unal said during a press briefing on Thursday that Turkey’s expectation from Syria is that it halts the violence as soon as possible to prevent further instability. Unal said: “However, we have many options on the table if this instability deepens. We have to determine these options in accordance with the developments we face. As you know, Article 5 of NATO is related to self-defense. So, this issue was mentioned in the past due to some incidents that occurred [along the Turkish border]. This is, of course, a matter which will remain on the agenda and it will still be assessed.”
Turkey first raised the issue of NATO protection of Turkish borders under Article 5 on April 10, following an incident along Turkey’s border with Syria. Speaking to reporters traveling with him during his official visit to China, Erdogan said Turkey may consider invoking the NATO charter’s fifth article to protect Turkish national security in the face of increasing tension along the Syrian border.
His comments came after four Syrians who fled to Turkey from the violence in Syria were killed by Syrian forces targeting refugees on the Turkish side of the border. Two Turkish nationals and two Syrians were injured during the incident at a refugee camp in Kilis province when Syrian forces fired across the border during clashes with opposition fighters, who had reportedly attempted to seize control of the border gate and then fled to Turkey.
Article 5, known as the collective defense clause, commits NATO states to defend a member state when it comes under attack. Whether or not NATO launches an intervention will be the sole decision of the treaty partners, who will assess the severity of the perceived threat.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara is ready to ask NATO for a military intervention in Syria, Press TV reports.
“I am ready to ask NATO for a military intervention in Syria,” Erdogan was quoted as saying on Monday.
The Turkish premier made the remarks in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, prior to his trip to Italy. He met with Slovenian President Danilo Turk in Ljubljana on Monday.
Erdogan also stated that the turmoil in Syria has to be brought to an end with the cooperation of international powers.
“We have been very patient with Syria issue so far,” he claimed.
The Monday remarks by the Turkish prime minister came as Syria held the first parliamentary elections under a new constitution approved by an overwhelming support of the people in a February referendum.
On May 6, Erdogan also expressed Turkey’s support for the Syrians seeking refuge in Turkey during a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border.
Over the past few months, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar expressed support for providing weaponry to the armed groups fighting against the Syrian government.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed on March 3 that the “international community’s message might be conveyed to the Syrian administration via certain methods including the arming of the Syrian National Council (SNC).”
On April 8, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan had not “submitted written guarantees from the governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on stopping their funding to terrorist groups.”