Time to make concrete steps on Syria, Davutoğlu says ahead of Istanbul summit
Ahmet Davutoğlu met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on April 17. Turkey will host pn April 20 the Friends of the Syrian People core group summit, where many foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, are set to attend. AA photoThe international community has to send clear and concrete messages to Syria, such as the establishment of humanitarian corridors and stepping up the war crimes probe, Turkey's top diplomat, Ahmet Davutoğlu, said April 18, two days ahead of the Friends of the Syrian People core group summit in Istanbul, set to be attended by several foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"I had a briefing today. The number of Scuds fired from Damascus to Aleppo in the last three months is 205. With each [Scud] an entire neighborhood is destroyed. This must be accounted for," Davutoğlu said during an interview aired on private broadcaster CNNTürk. "On Saturday [April 20] we will ask why the international community remains silent," he said, adding that every meeting Turkey held aimed to mobilize other countries.
During the almost two-hour interview, the Turkish foreign minister touched on several hot topics on the agenda, from the Syrian conflict to the Palestinian peace process.
Davutoğlu said Turkey's position on Syria was positively regarded. "No country has criticized Turkey's position, except Syria. But if Syria praised it, we would start to doubt [our position]. That's because Turkey stands in the right place," he said.
He also responded to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's warning to the West that it would pay a heavy price for its alleged support of groups linked to al-Qaeda in Syria, such as the al-Nusra Front. "Al-Assad makes a mistake in the order of things. Al-Assad's oppression did not start because al-Nusra was there. Al-Nusra appeared because of al-Assad's oppression," he said.
Davutoğlu also explained Turkey's position regarding the Kurdish groups inside Syria. He said Ankara did not want them to be used by the al-Assad regime. "No region should be claimed by any ethnic or confessional groups as this would trigger other [similar] claims," he added.
Erdoğan's Gaza visit ideally after Hamas-Fatah reconciliation
Davutoğlu also explained why the date of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's planned Gaza visit, initially hinted at as in April, was then announced as late May, after the latter's official visit to Washington May 16.
"The ideal [circumstances] for us would be that the visit happens after reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah], with the Palestinian people cherishing the prime minister. One would wish that this materializes by the visit," Davutoğlu said. He also denied that there was a split inside the Palestinian Authority about Erdoğan's visit.
Regarding the peace talks between Israel and Palestine, Davutoğlu said the question of who mediated the deal was not important as long as the terms were acceptable. But he added that any deal not approved by Ankara "has no chance of surviving."
Davutoğlu also said he had a very personal relationship with his recently appointed U.S. counterpart, Kerry, and they talked very frequently on the phone. "Well, let's not be unfair to [Hillary] Clinton, I had a very good relationship with her too. But what's important is that a global [actor] realizes Turkey's strength and endeavors to deepen its relationship."