Turkey cautiously welcomes Assad speech, says details important
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News | 6/20/2011 12:00:00 AM | SERKAN DEMİRTAŞ
The speech on Monday vowing reform by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contains both positive and negative points, according to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.
The speech on Monday vowing reform by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contains both positive and negative points, according to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, which has promised to closely monitor the implementation process of the pledged measures.
Assad’s speech, which offered a vague road map to start a national dialogue process and asked Syrian escapees to return home, came just a few days after the president’s special envoy, Hasan Turkmani, held a number of meetings in Ankara during which he received wide-ranging advice to calm the revolts throughout the country and lead a peaceful transition in the unrest-hit country.
Ankara’s initial assessment on Assad speech has been mixed. Diplomats said many of the reforms Assad promised were in line with what Ankara had already suggested to Damascus, but added that Assad’s accusation that opposition groups were plotting with foreign powers, as well as the vagueness of his reform plan, were negative.
“Assad will have to work with these groups, therefore his description of the opposition is not right,” a diplomatic source speaking on condition of anonymity told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday. “This is not a statement that might build a climate of confidence between rival groups.”
The president’s offer to expand a general amnesty, launch a national dialogue process and propose a road map to amend the law on political parties – thereby allowing legal political opposition to the ruling Baath Party – were all positive steps, according to Foreign Ministry sources.
“But how could it be possible to allow political parties without making the necessary changes to other laws so as to grant freedom of speech to the opposition?” one Turkish diplomat asked.
Similarly, the fact that Syria does even not have laws granting the right to assembly and to demonstrate makes the situation harder for the future, some diplomatic sources said.
“Therefore, what we are keen on is to see the details and their implementation,” the diplomat said.
Meanwhile, President Abdullah Gül’s special advisor Erşat Hürmüzlü, has caused controversy after speaking to Dubai-based news channel al-Arabiya, saying, “Al-Assad has less than a week to start implementing long-promised political reforms demanded by Syrian protestors before foreign intervention begins.”
Hürmüzlü later corrected his words to the semi-official Anatolia news agency and said: “We are not re-designing others’ houses. It is Syrians’ own problem.”
Hürmüzlü also criticized international news agencies for distorting his statements regarding Syria.