Turkey cautiously welcomes US-Russian deal on Syria
In this Sept. 5, 2013 pool-file photo, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin during arrivals for the G-20 summit at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. AP photo
Turkey has voiced a skeptical optimism after the United States and Russia agreed on a plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons by the middle of 2014.
“Turkey welcomes, as a matter of principle, the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction in the world and in our region, the chemical weapons in particular. Therefore, the agreement reached today in Geneva between the United States and the Russian Federation regarding the chemical weapons possessed by the Syrian regime was welcomed as a positive step and assessed carefully,” a written statement from the Foreign Ministry said Sept. 14.
After three days of talks in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded that al-Assad account for his secret stockpile within a week and let international inspectors eliminate all the weapons by the middle of next year.
Warning on exploitation
The Turkish statement said the agreement should not turn into a process whereby regime forces would buy time for new massacres.
“This agreement must not be exploited by the Syrian regime and must not turn into a process by which the regime would gain time to carry out new massacres against its people. The announced timeframe is lengthy and susceptible to the exploitation of the regime. The sanctions that will be imposed if the regime does not rapidly and strictly fulfill its obligations and the agreement comes to naught should be spelt out clearly from the start,” it said.
The accord leaves major questions unanswered, including how feasible such a major disarmament can be in the midst of civil war, and at what point Washington might yet make good on a continued threat to attack if it thinks al-Assad is reneging.
“This agreement should not be perceived as the final solution to the Syrian crisis, and the massacres committed by the regime without resorting to chemical weapons must absolutely be prevented,” the statement said. “The ultimate goal in Syria must be to end the crimes against humanity that have been perpetrated in this country by the regime over nearly three years, to fulfill the legitimate demands of the population and to enable the people of Syria to establish a legitimate administration.”