UN and EU condemn Syria attack on Turkey
by Daniel Mason
The United Nations Security Council and the European Union have condemned the Syrian mortar attack on a Turkish border town which left five civilians dead on Wednesday.áBut Turkey's decision to authorise cross-border military action in Syria has also provoked criticism from a leading member of the European Parliament.
"The members of the council demanded that such violation of international law stop and are not repeated," read the UN statement, which was unanimously approved by all members of the security council and followed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's earlier condemnation of the incident.
However, the BBC reported that Russia – which along with China has blocked previous UN resolutions on the conflict in Syria – had tried to insert language balancing the Syrian attack with Turkey's military response after it reacted by aiming artillery fire at targets within Syria.
European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said the incident – which follows the downing of a Turkish jet by Syrian air defences in June – illustrated the "tragic spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in neighbouring countries" and called for all sides to show "restraint".
"I once against urge the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the violence and fully respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all neighbouring countries – such violations of Turkey's sovereignty cannot be tolerated," she said. Both Ashton and the UN expressed condolences to the families of the victims, who were all women and children, and to the Turkish people.
Turkey's parliament responded to the attack by authorising military action in Syria at any time over the next year, a move that drew sharp criticism from Willy Meyer, vice-chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee and a member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left political group.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a news conference yesterday, said he was "not interested" in starting a war but that "nobody should try and test our determination" to defend the country's citizens and borders. He described the Syrian attack as "on the threshold of an armed attack".
However, Meyer said the signal from Turkey that it was ready to take military action – which has led to anti-war protests in Ankara and Istanbul – was "a real threat to stability in the region when negotiations within the framework of the United Nations mission are needed more than ever".
He added that any attempt by Erdogan to "assume a leading role" in the region would be "unacceptable" and called on Ashton to refuse to support any Turkish army activity outside its own borders.
Meanwhile the internal Syrian conflict has so far claimed 30,000 lives. The chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Irish deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore, said: "It is incumbent upon the international community to redouble its efforts to end the violence and the suffering of the Syrian people, and to urgently initiate a political process to resolve this conflict."
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I'm from the USA, and I'm curious. What is the European Union stance on the USA's handling of the Syrian crisis?
Valentin Castellon - USA