European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas has urged Turkey to choose between aligning itself with the West or joining its rivals, such as Russia and various Muslim states and militant groups. Speaking at an event in Brussels, Schinas emphasized that Turkey must declare its support for NATO, the EU, and the “ethos of the West,” or face association with Moscow, Tehran, Hamas, and Hezbollah.
Schinas made these remarks in the context of the recent violent flare-up between Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza. He highlighted that all 27 EU member states supported Israel’s “right to defend itself” and condemned terrorism following a deadly attack by Hamas. Schinas emphasized that Turkey must decide which side of history it wants to be on and cannot seek a middle ground or remain neutral.
Although Schinas did not provide specific actions for Turkey to prove its allegiance to the West, his comments coincided with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that his government was willing to mediate peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Erdogan expressed Turkey’s readiness for different types of mediation, including prisoner exchange. However, it is worth noting that Turkey has been critical of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the past. Erdogan has denounced Israel’s military operations in Gaza as “shameful” and “a massacre.”
While Schinas suggested that Russia had sided with Palestinian militants, it is important to clarify that Moscow has called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated the need to implement past UN resolutions and establish a Palestinian state through the “two-state solution.” Lavrov emphasized the importance of stopping the conflict immediately, respecting international humanitarian law, and preventing terrorist actions and indiscriminate use of force.
The recent escalation in violence began with a surprise attack by Hamas, which resulted in a significant national security breach for Israel. Local officials reported approximately 1,300 fatalities in the aftermath of the attack. In response, the Israeli military launched airstrikes, leading to around 1,500 reported deaths in Gaza and numerous casualties on both sides.
It remains to be seen how Turkey will respond to Schinas’ call for alignment with the West. The tensions in the Middle East continue to pose significant challenges for regional stability, and the international community is urging all parties involved to seek a peaceful resolution based on respect for international law and the rights of all individuals involved.