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LONDON - Turkey is asking its NATO allies for a tough response to Syria's downing of one of its aircraft on Friday. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc says that at a hastily-arranged NATO meeting Tuesday, his country will ask that the shootdown be considered an attack on the entire alliance. That conclusion could trigger a joint military response. But experts do not expect Tuesday's meeting to actually lead to war.
Turkey requested the meeting under NATO's Article Four, which empowers any member to call a meeting if its "territorial integrity, political independence or security" is threatened. But the Turkish prime minister said Monday his country will ask NATO to consider the downing of its aircraft under Article 5 - as an attack on all of NATO, opening the door to a joint military response.
Still, Turkey and Europe expert Fadi Hakura at London's Chatham House research center says the Turkish government wants to be seen as taking tough action and garnering the support of its allies, without actually starting a war.
"Article 4 is not like Article 5," said Hakura. "Article 4 is essentially a form of consultation between the NATO allies. And that's what Turkey really is looking for at this stage. What I don't think Turkey is contemplating is any kind of direct military confrontation between Turkey and Syria. It's more of a public relations exercise rather than a substantive discussion or a substantive response."
At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg involving many of the countries that will attend Tuesday's NATO meeting in Brussels, the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for a limited response to the shootdown.
"I spoke with the Turkish foreign minister specifically about this," said Ashton. "We are very concerned about what's happened. And we will be obviously looking to Turkey to be restrained in its response."
At the same meeting, European Union foreign ministers condemned the shootdown and agreed on a slight increase on economic sanctions against Syria.
But British Foreign Secretary William Hague downplayed talk of a military response, saying that his country and others will be seeking more EU and United Nations sanctions on Syria in the coming weeks.