Thursday, June 30, 2022

Turkey drops opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO

I am glad that Sweden, Finland and Turkey have been able to reach an honourable compromise which enables Turkey to drop its opposition to the two baltic countries becoming NATO members.

As I know from personal experience, Turkey has a genuine problem with some Kurds who have adopted terrorist tactics, though it is equally important not to label every Kurd who disagrees with the Erdogan administration as a terrorist - which Ankara has been accused of doing and not entirely without justice.

On 4th of November 1993 I was having a work discussion over a coffee in the 8th floor restaurant in a BT office block at 2-12 Gresham Street with another BT manager - who had previously been a Fine Gail member of the European Parliament and went on to have a third career as an academic - when the fire alarm went and we had to evacuate the building along with about 800 other employees.

What turned out to have happened is that we nearly became "collateral damage" in a co-ordinated series of terrorist attacks on Turkish targets throughout Europe.

A group of Kurdish terrorists had thrown a couple of improvised Molotov Cocktails through the ground floor windows of the building, almost certainly in the belief that they were attacking the Turkish bank to which part of the ground floor of the ten-story office block was had been leased.

Their escape plan being as incompetent as their selection of target, the wannabee terrorists ran off down the opposite road which took them right past the local police station, and a few minutes later they were guests of Her Majesty.

Had they been as harmless at making improvised explosive devices as they were inept in some other aspects of their attack the whole thing would have been extremely funny, but their bombs proved all too dangerous. Five BT employees were injured and taken to hospital, including a building inspector who was actually hit by one of the IEDs,  covered in burning fuel and quite seriously burned.

This was one of five firebomb attacks in London, clearly co-ordinated with similar terrorist attacks on Turkish targets in Germany, Austria, Denmark, France and Switzerland on the same day which in total caused one death and at least sixteen injuries, some serious.

Most BT buildings have emergency generators to enable the company to maintain telephone service in the event of a power cut, with fuel, and many BT offices in that decade had stationary stores with large stocks of paper forms. It was bad enough that these Molotov Cocktails hurt five human beings: if they had landed in a stationary store or started a conflagration which ignited the fuel for the building's emergency generator, one can easily envisage the possibility of a very serious incident in which I, and hundreds of other people, could have found ourselves on the upper floors of a ten-story blazing building.

The attacks were blamed on the Kurdistan Workers party or PKK: it is beyond doubt that some Kurdish terror cell mounted a wave of potentially lethal attacks on civilian Turkish targets in several of the major financial centres of Europe which did kill one person and could easily have killed scores if not hundreds of innocent people, in which category I put both their Turkish targets and citizens of the the countries where the attacks took place.

It is probably obvious that even now, nearly thirty years later, I still have strong opinions about this attack, and I fully understand why successive Turkish governments argue that they have a genuine security problem with some Kurdish groups.

It is equally true that the Turkish regime has a bad record of accusing any Kurdish person whose views or actions they find inconvenient of being associated with terrorist groups. The fact that there are real terrorists does not make it fair or just to accuse every dissident from the same ethnic group as the real terrorists of being one, and some - not all - such accusations have almost certainly been unjustified. 

It is important to target our indignation and any actions we may agree to take on the real terrorists, and not on peaceful opponents of the Turkish regime - or, for that matter, Kurds in Iraq and Syria who have fought with the West against the terrorists of DA'ESH.

Looking at the Tripartite Agreement which has been signed between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, it is clear that it will strengthen co-operation against the PKK and other real terrorists, but I cannot see anything in the agreement which would oblige the Swedes or Finns to take action against someone who had merely expressed an opinion which Ankara didn't like.

This clears the way to these two countries joining NATO as their populations wish.

Putin and his sycophants in the West may describe this enlargement of NATO as aggression but anyone with a working brain knows that it is nothing of the kind. Sweden and Finland are not joining the alliance because NATO has put pressure on them, but because Putin has. The Russian regime's repeated attacks on peaceful neighbours have proved that as long as Putin or anyone like him runs the Russian Federation it is and will remain a danger to every country in the vicinity whether they do anything to provoke him or not.

Finland and Sweden are joining NATO because that is what their people want and because of Russian aggression, not NATO aggression.

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