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Having read the two articles in the Nov. 27 edition of The Japan Times, namely “With friends like Turkey, who needs enemies?” by Doug Bandow and “Erdogan aims to derail Russia-NATO alliance” by Gwynne Dyer, I could not help but criticize your approach of supporting President Vladimir Putin’s policies of blustering against every country in Russia’s neighborhood in pursuance of his country’s strategic interests.

In my opinion what is missing in the two articles is justification of Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity by force. This can naturally be overlooked as the focus of attention now is how to win Russia’s support for the fight against Islamic State!

No need to question whose creation Islamic State is or whether or not Russia’s military action in Syria is really focused on the said terrorist entity. Equally, no need to hark back on the Suruc and Ankara mass killings by Islamic State. Just to remember the Paris carnage is enough!

I must remind you that simply giving place to these two articles which are constructed on the premise that Turkey stands with Islamic State and other radical Islamists in Syria is an insult to the memories of hundreds of innocent people who have lost their lives in Turkey and a slap for their bereaved families.

Moreover, the story of the encounter in the air is not truly recounted in the said articles. In this respect, I deem it necessary to clarify the facts about the incident which took place Nov. 24.

After Turkish radars detected two SU-24-type aircraft of unidentified nationality flying very close to our border near the Yayladagi region of Hatay province, these two aircraft were warned 10 times by our radar over a period of five minutes to change their heading south immediately so as not to violate Turkish national airspace. In spite of these warnings, both aircraft violated our airspace from east to west.

It should be emphasized that the Russian authorities were fully aware of our rules of engagement for all aircraft approaching from Syria in violation of Turkish airspace. Despite this fact, unfortunately, in this latest incident, repeated warnings from Turkish radars were disregarded by the intruding aircraft. Consequently, the aircraft that continued to violate our national airspace was perceived as a threat and existing rules of engagement were applied.

This is an incident that we wish did not happen. We are saddened by it. We have no intention whatsoever to escalate the situation. Nevertheless, threats against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Turkey cannot be tolerated.

AHMET BULENT MERIC
AMBASSADOR, REPUBLIC OF TURKEY

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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