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Turkey & Russia: First Negotiate in Good Faith

In Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Middle East & North Africa, The Search for Peace, World Law on November 25, 2015 at 12:15 AM

TURKEY & RUSSIA: FIRST NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH

By René Wadlow

“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad” was an insight of the classic Greek period.

There is obviously a form of madness in the Turks destroying a Russian fighter-bomber which may have entered Turkish air space along the frontier with Syria.  The Turkish authorities knew that the Russians were going to bomb in Syria and not attack Turkey. “Air space” is a relative concept in a frontier area. When the Russian plane crashed, it crashed in Syria.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) said the downing of a Russian plane by the Turkish military felt like “a stab in the back” to him, while his Turkish counterpart Reçep Tayyip Erdogan (right) claimed the plane ignored a formal warning from Turkey. Who’s right or wrong doesn’t really matter; the real question is whether the leaders of the two countries concerned really think that kind of conduct can possibly help resolve the dispute and not fuel it instead.

During the First World War, the French Prime Minister, George Clemenceau, said “War is too important to be left only to Generals”. Today, for the moment, the generals at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are meeting and the Russian generals are meeting on their own side. The political leaders are in contact. However, peacemaking is too important to be left only to political leaders who created the violence in the first place.

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Under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, an attack on one Ally (NATO Member State) shall be considered an attack on all Allies. But in this very case, can Turkey prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was actually attacked by Russia?

There needs to be movements and efforts beyond and outside the governments in conflict to help bring about negotiations and a climate in which peace measures are possible.

As citizens of the world, we are particularly called to help create such a climate for negotiations in good faith. We know that violence can spread, and that mutual escalation can slip out of control. We need to use our worldwide links in a creative way to reduce tensions in the wider Middle East so that peace measures are possible.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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