Turkey dismayed by Iran’s Patriot critique

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Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu reacts strongly statements from Iranian top officials, saying Tehran should first of all warn Syria to put an end to the bloodshed of its own people German soldiers stand next to PAC-2 launchers of a ‘Patriot’ missile battery in Warbelow. A German team starts studying for a possible Patriot spot in Maraş. AP photo

Responding strongly to Iranian officials’ repeated condemnations of NATO’s planned deployment of Patriot missiles in Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said yesterday that Iran should first of all warn Syria to put an end to the bloodshed of its own people.

“The Patriot system is a defensive system and it does not operate as long as there is no attack against the country [where it is deployed],” Davutoğlu said at a joint press conference with Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, stressing that similar explanations about the Patriot system’s nature had been repeatedly made both by himself and by NATO officials.

His remarks came in response to a question regarding the recent statements from Iranian officials charging that the deployment of Patriots is a provocative act against regional peace.

Doing whatever it takes to protect itself by using both national capacities and opportunities provided by being a member of an international organization is Turkey’s unquestionable right, Davutoğlu said.
“Our expectation from Iran is not for it to deliver statements on the arrival of this defensive system, but instead for it to give a very clear and sharp message to the Syrian regime. It should use of its weight to help end the oppression in Syria,” Davutoğlu said.

Clear message to regime

“The Syrian regime constantly tyrannizes its own people, uses its air forces against its own people, and has in the past violated Turkey’s borders many times. It has thus made many provocative actions against Turkey,” he said.

“Now the time has come for Iran to give a clear message to the Syrian regime. Today, if there is an element threatening regional peace it is the aggressive policy followed by the Syrian regime,” Davutoğlu added. NATO agreed this month to send Patriot missiles to Turkey to protect its ally against possible attack from neighboring Syria.

On Dec. 15, the joint chief of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said the Patriot deployment was part of a plot to “create a world war.”

On Dec. 17, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cancelled a planned visit to Turkey just a day after his foreign minister had also warned Ankara against hosting the U.S.-made missiles. Hours before Davutoğlu’s press conference, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) warned that Turkey and Iran should use careful language with each other and should engage in constructive dialogue to eliminate disagreements.

“In order not to have troubles in relations between the two neighboring countries that may lead to an unnecessary escalation, both parties should act responsibly and moderately. It should not be forgotten that an improvement in Turkey-Iran relations would also contribute to the resolution of problems in the region,” CHP Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a delegation from Germany visited the Gazi Barracks in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş in an attempt to determine sites to deploy the Patriot missiles.
The delegation arrived in Adana on Dec. 17 and came to Kahramanmaraş for the inspection yesterday, Anatolia news agency reported.

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