Erdoğan to Syria: Turkey can give as good as it gets
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ
Turkey is prepared to retaliate against Syria for any hostile action, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, while arguing that the Syrian regime’s days are numbered.
During a gathering with diplomatic missions in Ankara, Erdoğan also rebuked countries that have been tolerating the activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), without explicitly citing the names of these countries.
“Turkey has taken all necessary precautions within the framework of international law vis-à-vis [Syria’s] hostile attitude. Turkey has changed its rules of engagement in order to prevent an incident similar [to the June 22 downing of a Turkish jet]. If Syria does not take lessons from these developments and continues its hostile attitude, Turkey will not hesitate in giving as good as it gets,” Erdoğan said July 23 at the fifth Traditional Fast-Breaking Dinner for Foreign Mission Chiefs and Ambassadors in Ankara.
Erdoğan also said Syria’s downing of a Turkish plane last month was an entirely hostile act that ignored international law. Erdoğan also said the end was nigh for the current Syrian government. “This bloody regime in Syria will go sooner or later. As a matter of fact, the ruthless massacres which have been committed in recent days in a panicked mood also portend [the end of] the regime in Syria,” he said. “We believe that the Syrian people are closer than ever to victory,” he said, while also criticizing the faltering peace plan drawn up by international envoy Kofi Annan.
“The Annan plan, which the international community including Turkey has supported in good faith, has become a vehicle for exploitation by the al-Assad regime in its current form. The international community must take more responsibility when faced with the unfolding developments,” he said.
Turkey won’t permit manipulation
On July 23, Erdoğan held a meeting with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel. Although there were no press statement following the meeting, which lasted close to an hour, Syria was assumed to be the main topic of the tête-à-tête that followed Erdoğan’s lengthy talks the same day with Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan.
Turkey does not have any secret agenda with regard to any country’s internal affairs, but it is also aware that some countries have been using terrorist activities to manipulate Turkey’s policies, Erdoğan said. “I have to note here that there are attempts to shape our domestic and foreign policy through terrorist activities that have been going on for the last 30 years,” he said in an apparent reference to the PKK, which is labeled a terrorist outfit by Ankara, the U.S. and the EU.
While the Turkish government’s reforms regarding the rights of its Kurdish citizens have helped strengthen mutual trust between the state and its people, some countries have continued to tolerate the activities of terrorist groups on their soil, he said. “We have been following these ill-intentioned attempts very carefully. We will continue fighting terror in the most determined way and we will not tolerate the misuse of the terror organization as a subcontractor to shape our domestic and foreign policy,” he said.