Turkey calls for action not words on Syria
VIENNA- Agence France-Presse
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attends a news conference in Vienna March 22, 2012. REUTERS/Leonhard FoegerAn international action plan is needed to stop the "human tragedy" in Syria, Turkey's foreign minister said today after a UN Security Council statement calling for all sides to end violence.
"In addition to a common message we also have to develop a joint plan of action," Ahmet Davutoğlu said after talks in Vienna with his Austrian counterpart ahead of an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels that he will attend.
"We continue to think that Syria is playing for time and we must do something to stop this violence. In order for this human tragedy to end we must act together," Davutoğlu told a news conference through an interpreter.
"Just making calls is not enough." On Wednesday the UN Security Council demanded that Syria immediately implement a peace plan by special envoy Kofi Annan, calling on President Bashar al-Assad to work toward a cessation of hostilities and a democratic transition. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he hoped Wednesday's rare show of unity by the 15-member council -- including Russia and China -- would mark a "turning point" in the crisis, in which the UN says more than 8,000 people have been killed.
Annan's plan calls for Assad to pull troops and heavy weapons out of protest cities, a daily two-hour humanitarian pause to hostilities, access to all areas affected by the fighting, and a UN-supervised halt to all clashes.
Syria's main opposition group on Thursday criticized the UN statement as offering "the regime the opportunity to push ahead with its repression in order to crush the revolt by the Syrian people." Turkey broke its longtime alliance with the Damascus regime in November by calling on Assad to quit, and in addition to taking in around 17,000 refugees the country has become the main haven for opposition groups and rebel fighters. It is due to host on April 1 a "Friends of Syria" conference in Istanbul to pressure the Damascus regime following a first such meeting in Tunis on February 24 attended by leading officials from Western and Arab countries.
Davutoğlu said today that the Syrian government has lost all legitimacy and that Assad has repeatedly failed to keep his word.
"In Damascus in February we were promised that the violence and atrocities would stop, but since then more and more atrocities have taken place," he said.
"No government attacks its civilian population with weapons."