There is no doubt that the Turkey-Russia jet crisis has been occupying the international media a great deal lately. Some journalists express their views that the crisis will exacerbate and the bonds between Russia and Turkey will not normalize again, while others are optimistic with a hope that this is only a temporary issue and things will settle down after a while. I belong to the second group. I believe Russia and Turkey have overcome difficulties during the course of their respective and mutual histories and have always managed to land on their feet.
It would be unfair to expect anything else since the two peoples have a common culture and history. Besides, both countries have long endeavored to build a friendly bond with each other. They have been enjoying a strategic partnership in the region for more than a decade. Above all, the two peoples are like brothers who never wish to hurt one another. The current crisis came about suddenly and unexpectedly due to ongoing inconsistencies in the region. Undeniably, no one would have wanted such a disaster but the damage is done and it is not possible to turn back the clock as much as we would like to. If you ask me, the action is on no account justifiable; however, the best thing to do now is to concentrate on the future in order to normalize our relations.
Jeopardizing lives is on no account acceptable
It should be kept in mind that no matter what the circumstances, there could be no justification for downing a plane when it means almost certain death for a human being. As long as the parties are determined to maintain a calm approach with the intention of protecting human life to the maximum extent, a solution will always be found to such problems without resorting to dangerous methods. Escorting the jet out and forcing it to leave airspace, contacting the military of the other country or getting verbal confirmation from the pilot are only a few of the options that can be considered in such situations. The fact that something is allowed by international laws doesn't necessarily make it humane or conscientious. There can be no justification for jeopardizing lives, or worse yet, for ending the life of a human being.
Indeed, something similar happened recently when a Russian warship passed through the Turkish straits. Aboard the ship was a Russian soldier, who was carrying a ground-to-air missile on his shoulder, seemingly pointing it to the city. Understandably, this caused real concern in the Turkish people. It was not only against the Montreaux Convention, it was quite clearly not a very friendly gesture. According to this Convention, Turkey also had the right to close the Straits to Russia, but chose not to do so. Plainly, such actions would escalate already high tensions and would make it even more difficult to heal the still-fresh wounds. In other words, despite situations that might seem provocative at the time, it is always possible to act with a calm, humane and mature approach.
The role of neighboring countries is undoubtedly important in times of crises. Iran, which has been a neighbor and friend of both Russia and Turkey, sets an example in this by not taking sides on this issue and by trying to calm down the strained relations with moderate statements. For instance, the head of the Strategic Research Center of Iran’s Expediency Council, Ali Akbar Velayati, stated in a television program that rising tensions would be detrimental to both countries and called on neighboring countries to take a constructive role by making thoughtful and far-sighted remarks to reduce frayed nerves as the region is not in need of more tensions.
Sanctions always make the peoples suffer
The current tense atmosphere is not welcome by either the Russian or Turkish peoples. The Russian economy is already suffering, owing to the sanctions by the West and the plunge in oil prices. On the other hand, Turkey supplies 55% (27 bcm) of its natural gas and 30% of its oil needs from Russia. Turkey’s construction and tourism sectors are invested in Russia’s economy. However, this latest stress would easily jeopardize their economic ties, leaving both countries isolated in the region. It is not expedient or wise to impose further economic sanctions when the region is already on fire. In any event, Turkey and Russia serve as significant key players in order sustain stability in the area of conflict; thus, they have a great responsibility to save the lives of innocent people and bring peace to the region.
Additionally, the Russian people have suffered extensively due to various economic sanctions applied on them over the last couple of years. The sanctions not only resulted in economic disaster but also had a tremendous impact on the social lives of the people. Living an isolated life made them suffer psychologically, as well. However, when we look at the present, we see that Russia is beginning to apply the same to Turkey, a country that has never taken part in the sanctions applied to Russia. It is not only a matter of sales of products, decreasing the import of goods or blocking the relations of other economic sectors, it is a matter of damaging the deeply-rooted bonds of friendship, brotherhood and love between the two nations. Economic hardships can be overcome one way or the other by finding alternative supplies, but what matters most is normalizing the relationship that would relieve the two peoples. In times of sanctions, it is important for third parties to take strong stands and lend assistance to the affected countries, like Turkey did for Russia and Iran.
The importance of collaboration in the region
These rising tensions would be of no benefit to the involved parties while the whole world is trying to sustain peace in the region we are located. Due to its strength and geopolitical position, it is possible for Russia to assume a stronger role in the Eurasian region and make great contributions to peace. This position will make it economically stronger and politically more stable. However, evidently this mission can be accomplished by Russia having strong ties with Turkey like it did before. Turkey, a strong Muslim country enjoying a very strategic geographical position, can no doubt help Russia attain its goals. In return, Turkey, together with the backing of Russia, can regain its position as an influential player in the region to become a balancing actor in a deeply volatile part of the world.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Tehran Times,