ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
US Secretary of State Clinton speaks to her counterparts during the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference in Tunis in this photo. ABACAPRESS photo
There are “strong signals” that the Friends of Syria group could recognize the opposition Syrian National Congress as the sole “legitimate representative of the Syrian people” when it meets April 1 in Istanbul, according to a council member.
“There are some countries giving support to the proposal, and Turkey is among them,” the Syrian dissident told the Hürriyet Daily News
yesterday. The Friends of Syria group recognized the council as “a legitimate representative of the Syrian people” in its previous meeting Feb. 24.
Ankara “does not rule out” the prospect that the council will be declared the sole representative next week, a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News. “[However], it’s early to speak. The Syrian opposition should expand its base and come to a point at which it can say it represents all segments of society,” the diplomat said.
Turkey was one of those that recognized the opposition council as “a representative of the Syrian people” at the previous meeting, the diplomat said. Turkey, meanwhile, believes that U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is not pressing the Syrian regime strongly enough on ending the violence.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
asked Annan in a phone conversation on March 23 “to apply more pressure on [President Bashar] al-Assad and cautioned that he should not allow the Syrian leader to gain time from his mission,” the diplomat said. Annan agreed to increase pressure on Damascus during the phone conversation, he said. His mission should not pave the way for more bloodshed through the manipulation of the Syrian administration, the diplomat said.
Opposition representatives will meet today in Istanbul in an effort to unite and draw up a joint position.