Letter By Turkish Ambassador H.e. A. Bülent Meriç Addressed To The Managing Editors Of “the Japan Times” In Response To The Articles Titled "with Friends Like Turkey, Who Needs Enemies?"and "erdogan Aims To Derail Russia-nato Alliance" Which Were Published In The Said Newspaper On 27 November 2015

Tokyo Büyükelçiliği 03.12.2015

Ms. Sayuri Daimon
Mr. Edan Corkill

Managing Editors
The Japan Times

Tokyo, 27 November 2015

Dear Ms. Daimon and Mr. Corkill,

Having read the two “outstanding” articles in the Japan Times’ edition today, 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 Putin’s policies of blustering every country in Russia’s neighbourhood 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 ISIS!

No need to question whose creation ISIS 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 ISIS. 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 the ISIS 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 ones.

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 on 24 November 2015.

After Turkish radars detected two SU-24 type aircraft of unidentified nationality flying very close to our border near Yayladagi region of Hatay province, these two aircraft were warned 10 times by our radar over a period of 5 minutes to change their heading south immediately so as not to violate the Turkish national airspace. In spite of these warnings, both aircraft violated our airspace from east-to-west in Yayladagi province. The first aircraft left our airspace upon continued warnings. The second one continued its violation, and Turkish F-16s patrolling the border region fired at the second aircraft while it was in the Turkish airspace. Having been hit, the aircraft crashed onto adjacent territory inside Syria. Some pieces of the impacted aircraft fell onto Turkish territory and wounded two Turkish citizens. It must be underlined that the aircraft was engaged while it was in the Turkish airspace and the nationality of these aircraft was identified with the announcements made by the Russian authorities after the incident.

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. We had communicated to the Russian side on several occasions that we should absolutely avoid from reaching such a point and that we have made necessary explanations and warnings comprehensively, clearly and sincerely, time and again. 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.

Following the shooting down of the aircraft due to the violation of our national airspace, the UN Secretary General and the members of the Security Council were informed with a letter. Concurrently, Embassies of the P-5 of the UN Security Council were invited to the Ministry individually and informed about the situation. Moreover, the North Atlantic Council held an extraordinary session in the evening on 24 November 2015 upon our request, where we informed our Allies. Our Allies have reaffirmed their strong solidarity with Turkey.

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.

Considering that the Japan Times is open to all points of view, I do hope that the abovementioned opinion would also be given place in your newspaper in order to portray a more fair view of what has happened in the last few days to the distinguished readers of the Japan Times.

Yours sincerely,

A. Bülent Meriç

Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey


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