Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
2nd January, 2016
Former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, who chaired the Alliance between 1995 and 1999, in his article for Project Syndicate, explained why Ankara cannot give up the opportunity to make peace with Russia in the future.
According to him, for the European Union, which started negotiations with Ankara because of the refugee crisis, the fight against “Islamic state” (prohibited on the territory of Russia — ed.) remains a key priority. This struggle will require interaction with Moscow, which the member countries of the EU have already recognized.
“After the November terrorist attacks in Paris, attempts were made to strengthen the cooperation between the countries in combating terrorism, including between France and Russia. If Turkey wants its relations with the EU to improve, it will have to join,” writes Solana.
He noted that Turkey, because of its proximity to Syria, could play a particularly important role in shaping the peace process in the region, ending a sharp deterioration of relations with Russia, after Turkey had shot down a Russian military aircraft.
Strained relations with Moscow not only led to economic sanctions by the Russian authorities, but also hit Turkey’s position in Syria, said Solana. Russia has upped its involved in the region with air-to-air missiles, and from the point of view of former NATO Secretary General, this could weaken the influence of Ankara on the North-Eastern border with Syria.
Solana described the current situation of Turkey as “a tangle”, which the country is capable of getting out of if it will adopt a “strategic approach” — in particular, recognizing the need to stabilize the situation in Syria once and for all by clarifying its role in the fight against ISIS.
According to the former NATO Secretary General, Turkey has recently successfully demonstrated its ability to overcome severe crises and, with this in mind, the idea to make peace with Russia Ankara cannot be refused. “This approach will undoubtedly facilitate the management of multiple risks, which will be intensified on the background of the Syrian conflict,” sums up Solana.
A Russian su-24 was shot down on November 24 by a Turkish F-16s over Syrian territory and fell four kilometers from the border with Turkey. The Russian President Vladimir Putin called it a “stab in the back from supporters of terrorists”. Ankara claims that the su-24 entered its airspace. The General staff of the Russian Federation stated that the plane boundary was not crossed, which was confirmed by Syrian air defenses.