Turkey to US: We know when to say bye to Assad
ANKARA- Hürriyet Daily News | 8/17/2011 12:00:00 AM | Sevil Küçükkoşum
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other governments should call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, declining to make that call herself, but Turkey is not willing to be the leading country in that role.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other governments should call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, declining to make that call herself, but Turkey is not willing to be the leading country in that role. Ankara does not rule out that option, but says it’s too early to call for Assad’s departure.
It was crucial to develop a common regional attitude toward Syria, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters on Wednesday in response to a question recalling Clinton’s remarks.
“We’ll extend contacts in our region to develop a joint attitude on Syria. We’d do the best for timing and for what to say,” the minister added.
“If there will be call on Assad to step down, it should not be Turkey to make the call, but everyone, first of all Syrian people should say that first,” a diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey does not rule out the option but also is not considering it at the moment, another Turkish official told the Daily News.
“It’s not going to be any news if the U.S. says Assad needs to go,” Clinton said, suggesting the world’s reaction to such a move would be, “Ok, fine. What’s next?” “If Turkey says it, if King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there’s no way the Assad regime can ignore it,” she said Tuesday.
When asked whether the Obama administration should demand that Assad step down, Clinton said: “I am a big believer in results over rhetoric.” She said the U.S. diplomatic approach toward Syria amounts to “smart power,” noting such an approach is an alternative to using brute force and unilateralism.
Ankara has not indicated willingness to lead an international coalition to conduct coercive diplomacy to push drastic measures on the Syrian administration, but instead it is seeking coherence with regional countries. Along with Western actors, Turkey has been discussing the situation with regional countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Turkey does not favor military intervention, Davutoğlu said late Tuesday, but added that the Syrian army’s military operation against civilians was not acceptable. “We are determined to take every necessary measure to make sure the operations stop. This is for us an issue that closely concerns our own stability.”
Turkey will continue to discuss with Syria, as it would do with other countries, Davutoğlu told reporters in a joint press appearance with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh on Wednesday.
Although Ankara might have not succeeded with its preventive diplomacy on Syria, since Assad has not taken steps to end the violence or implement urgent reforms, Turkey prefers diplomatic ambiguity before applying isolation policies to Damascus. A limited engagement policy could continue for the Syrian administration, the diplomatic source said.
Turkey is considering developments in Syria putting two threshold points to take further measures. The crisis in Syria is at the level of human rights violation, but it could lead to a crisis on Turkey’s border, the diplomatic source warned. The next level of threat could be a regional crisis, the source added.
Davutoğlu denied claims that Turkey was establishing a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border. “We are talking about a 900-kilometer border. We cannot talk about such a development right now,” he said, adding however that the possibility of a safe heaven is on the agenda.
If thousands of people gather on the Turkish-Syrian border, Ankara could take security measures and set up a safe haven, the diplomatic source said.
[HH] ‘Kılıçdaroğlu must apologize’
Davutoğlu also slammed the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his criticism of the government for not informing the opposition regarding the developments in the foreign policy.
Davutoğlu said Kılıçdaroğlu should first apologize to him for calling him a “subcontractor” regarding Turkey’s Syria policy.