Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is picking the bitter fruit of its Syrian policy following a decision yesterday to ground a Syrian passenger flight to check for weapons, the main opposition has said.
“This incident is the latest bitter fruit of the wrong and biased Syria policy which the AKP government has been following. With this incident, an air dimension has been added to the already-tense relations between the two countries,” said Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Faruk Loğoğlu, a retired ambassador and a former undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry.
The plane incident has displayed a “worrying and dangerous escalation full of unknowns,” he said.
Underlining that the inspection of the plane was carried out upon a tip-off – the source of which was not yet clear – Loğoğlu said they expected a more comprehensive statement concerning the issue from officials when the examination is completed.
Loğoğlu, however, said the political aspect of the issue was more important than its technical aspect amid questions of whether the inspection was conducted in line with the rules of international civil aviation.
“This development will also negatively effect our relations with Russia with which we already have an opposite approach [on Syria]” in addition to the problems it will cause with the Arab republic, he said.
“The forced landing of third countries’ [planes] which use Turkish airspace in a similar fashion may bring Turkey up against a lot of countries,” Loğoğlu said.
Passengers on a Syrian passenger plane that was grounded for several hours by Turkish authorities on Oct. 10 said they were forced to sign “fake papers” indicating that the aircraft had made an emergency landing.
The A-320 plane, traveling from Moscow to Damascus, was grounded by Turkish authorities on suspicions that it was carrying military equipment destined for Syria. When the plane was intercepted by Turkish authorities at around 6:30 p.m., it was carrying 37 people, including crew, daily Hürriyet reported on its website.
“Four people in the plane were beaten up [and] forced to sign the papers. Two of them were crew and the other two were passengers. We don’t know what the papers were about. We were worried about the situation of the captain. They took him away and they threatened him, saying he would be taken under custody if he didn’t sign the emergency landing documents,” one of the hostesses on the plane, Shirin Azis, told Russian TV channel RT.
One of the passengers, Fatima al-Saman, said the captain was forced to sign a document that claimed military aircraft had no role in the grounding of the plane and that the aircraft had been forced to make an emergency landing.
“They were going to take the captain hostage if we didn’t obey their conditions. They were threatening us. The captain told us that ‘I either have to sign that document that I made an emergency landing, or they will take me hostage,’” she said.
“They started to take down some of the luggage. They opened [the bags] up and took pictures. We all saw what was inside. There were no arms or whatseoever there. There were only some auxilary equipment and papers, but there were no rockets. [The claims that there were weapons on board] are all lies.”
According to authorities, the plane was carrying 12 large parcels containing military communication devices.