A top Brussels official said Ankara must either align itself with the West or join its rivals
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas has demanded that Türkiye either openly declare its support for NATO, the EU and the “ethos of the West,” or side with Russia and an assortment of Muslim states and militant groups.
Speaking at an event in Brussels on Wednesday, Schinas weighed in on the recent violent flare-up between Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza, noting that all 27 EU member states supported Israel’s “right to defend itself” and denounced terrorism following a deadly Hamas attack last weekend.
Addressing Türkiye, the official declared that the country must “choose which side of history it wants to be on,” suggesting it could not seek a middle ground between world powers or remain neutral.
“[Türkiye will be] with us – the European Union, NATO, our values, the ethos of the West – or with Moscow, Tehran, Hamas, and Hezbollah,” Schinas said, as cited by Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, adding that “the answer needs to be clear.”
While the vice president did not elaborate on what Ankara should do to prove its allegiance to the West, his comments came just days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was prepared to coordinate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Türkiye … is ready for all kinds of mediation, including prisoner exchange, if the parties request it,” the president said in a lengthy statement, which was issued following separate discussions with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
However, Ankara has been highly critical of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians in the past, and Erdogan has slammed Israel’s latest military operations in Gaza as “shameful” and “a massacre.”
Although Schinas implied that Russia had sided with Palestinian militants, Moscow has urged for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and stressed that civilians were suffering on all sides. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated calls to implement past UN resolutions and create a Palestinian state – commonly known as the “two-state solution.”
“All of us had the same opinion… that this confrontation must be stopped immediately, that the parties should respect international humanitarian law, prevent any terrorist actions and the indiscriminate use of force,” Lavrov said.
The surprise attack by Hamas last Saturday marked one of Israel’s greatest national security breaches in decades, with local officials reporting some 1,300 fatalities in the aftermath. The Israeli military has launched days of airstrikes in retaliation, with around 1,500 reportedly killed in Gaza and thousands more wounded on both sides.
October 13, 2023 at 01:23PM