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Foreign Minister Davutoğlu expresses regret over the Syrian president’s refusal to listen to Turkey’s advice in an August 2011 meeting. ‘Our analysis was right. We did what our conscience required,’ says FM

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Ahmet Davutoğlu speaks at the ambassasors’
conference in Ankara.  DAILY NEWS photo

Ahmet Davutoğlu speaks at the ambassasors’ conference in Ankara. DAILY NEWS photo

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu expressed regret yesterday over the fact Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had refused to listen to Turkey’s advice at the time and suggested the picture in Syria could be different if al-Assad had heeded Ankara’s advice.

“I wish he wouldn’t contravene the 14-article text on which we agreed upon in a seven-hour long meeting only three days after the meeting. Then, these [tragedies] wouldn’t have been experienced in Syria,” Davutoğlu said yesterday in the opening speech he delivered at the fifth ambassadors’ conference held by his ministry.

The minister was referring to a lengthy meeting with al-Assad that was held in Damascus in August 2011. Following the meeting, al-Assad rebuffed Turkey’s appeal to end the crackdown on the opposition and said his government would press ahead with its fight. “Our analysis was right. We did what our conscience and strategy required,” Davutoğlu said, noting that Turkey has long tried to convince al-Assad.

Underlining the democratic progress seen in North Africa in the last year, Davutoğlu said this progress was not reversible.

“Once people became used to voting there is no turning back. That is a nice virus. No [Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali, [Hosni] Mubarak and [Moammar] Gaddafi will come to these countries anymore,” he said.
While Turkey boosts ties with global powers it does not consider one country to be an alternative to another, the Turkish foreign minister has said.

‘Turkey would take every risk necessary’

“Because those global powers know that now history flows through Ankara, parties that ignore Ankara cannot understand history. The one that risks relations with Ankara will take risks in all regional policies,” Davutoğlu said. Davutoğlu noted that the number of diplomatic missions in Ankara was 148 a decade ago, but has grown to 240 now as the number of Turkey’s diplomatic missions abroad also increased. “From now on, those who want to understand history must be present in Ankara, Istanbul and every other place in Turkey because from now on we will be more actively present in shaping of the flow of history,” Davutoğlu said. It was impossible to run after history, but one should run through or ahead of history, the foreign minister said.

Turkey would take every risk if necessary, even if it meant they made some mistakes, but would never behave spinelessly, Davutoğlu stated. The minister also suggested that Somalis and Palestinians have become a diaspora for Turkey.

In the past, whenever there was a campaign against Turkey, it was Turks and Azerbaijanis who took to the streets, but now they are accompanied by Somalis and Palestinians thanks to Turkey’s intense diplomacy within those geographies. Recalling that the theme of this year’s ambassadors’ conference was “humanitarian diplomacy,” he said this notion had three dimensions. The first dimension is the principle that the state should facilitate the lives of her people, the minister noted, citing Ankara’s move for visa liberalization with the EU.

The second area of humanitarian diplomacy was the attitude in regions of crises, Davutoğlu said, giving Turkey’s policies for Somalia as an example. He defined the third dimension as “humanitarian ownership in the U.N. system.”

January/03/2013

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