Turkey and Iran exchange words over Syria

Comments from Turkey about Iran destabilising the region prompted a response from Tehran, triggering Ankara's further response.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 19, 2017.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has responded to a comment from Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi that Turkey should not test Iran’s patience.

"It is neither acceptable nor comprehensible for a country (Iran), which does not even hesitate to push to the battlefield refugees seeking shelter from crises, to accuse others of being responsible for regional tensions and instability," Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said in Ankara on Monday.

Ghasemi was responding to earlier comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who accused Iran of destabilising the region. Iran also summoned the Turkish ambassador in Tehran on Monday over the comments.

Turkey and Iran support opposite sides in the conflict in Syria. Iran and Iranian-backed militias are backing the regime, while Turkey backs elements of the Syrian opposition.

On Sunday, Cavusoglu told delegates at a security conference in Munich, “Iran wants to turn Syria and Iraq Shia,” according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

Cavusoglu said Turkey was against any sectarianism in the Middle East and had called on Iran to stop threatening the region's stability and security.

"We will be patient with their positions," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Monday in reference to the comments made in Munich, according to the Mehr News agency. "But there is a certain cap for our patience."

After the remarks, the Turkish foreign ministry responded by saying Iran should "revise its regional policies and take constructive steps, rather than criticising countries that voice criticism of Iran."

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus had earlier in the day struck a more conciliatory tone, downplaying any reports of tension.

“Iran and Turkey are friendly nations. There can be differences in views from time to time, but there can’t be animosity because of comments," Kurtulmus said.

Even if our political differences with Iran emerge, these shouldn’t be blown out of proportion," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies