Damascus has reproached Turkish government officials for raising the idea of military protection along Turkish borders against the threat from Syria under Article 5 of the NATO Charter, claiming that Turkey intends to “aggravate tension in Syria and harm bilateral ties.”
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jihad Makdisi said in a written statement on Saturday that “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are continuing to make their provocative statements with the aim of aggravating the situation in Syria and harming bilateral ties. It is disturbing that Erdoğan has threatened to bring in NATO troops to protect its borders with Syria.”
Makdisi further claimed that for Turkey to raise such a prospect of a military intervention, it has demonstrated the country's lack of commitment to international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, which sets out a complete cease-fire between the Syrian government and the opposition starting from April 12.
However, the truce in the country has already proved to be shaky, as conflicts in the restive towns are ongoing. In the latest fighting on Saturday, Syrian activists said regime forces fought with army defectors near President Bashar al-Assad's summer palace in a coastal village and shelled a Damascus suburb in pursuit of gunmen.
During televised remarks from Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV on Thursday, Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey will take necessary measures “as a NATO member country” under Article 5, in the event that border violations from Syria continue.
“We have a strong army. … Syria must be aware of the fact that in the event of a repetition of these border violations, Turkey's stance will not be the same,” Erdoğan maintained.
Erdoğan first raised the issue of NATO protection of Turkish borders under Article 5 on April 10, following an incident along Turkey's border with Syria.
Two Turkish nationals and two Syrians were injured during the aforementioned incident earlier in April at a refugee camp in Kilis province when Syrian forces fired across the border during clashes with opposition fighters, who had reportedly attempted to seize control of the border gate and then fled to Turkey.
Article 5, known as the collective defense clause, commits NATO states to defend a member state when it comes under attack. Whether or not NATO launches an intervention will be the sole decision of the treaty partners, who will assess the severity of the perceived threat.