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POLITICS > Turkey’s Davutoğlu gives Arab Spring lecture in US

WASHINGTON - Anatolia News Agency

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US senators, John McCain (L) and Joseph Lieberman (R), give a tour to Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu at the US Senate in Washington. AA photo

US senators, John McCain (L) and Joseph Lieberman (R), give a tour to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu at the US Senate in Washington. AA photo

Turkey is intent on forming an international platform to resolve the crisis in Syria, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Feb. 9 while reiterating that Ankara could not remain indifferent to a massacre in its region.

Davutoğlu said Turkey wanted to set up an international platform for a solution to the Syrian crisis and added that they were holding consultations with several countries to that end.

“Will we wait and see after [last week’s] Russian and Chinese veto [on a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria]? No, never. As Turkey, we will not simply watch a massacre taking place in our region even if everybody remains silent and indifferent. We are trying to raise a new international awareness,” Davutoğlu told students at Washington’s George Washington University during a visit to the United States for talks with top officials, including his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The Turkish government announced Feb. 8 that it was trying to organize an international conference that seeks a peaceful settlement to the Syrian crisis “as soon as possible.”

The foreign minister also said Turkey’s three-stage strategy toward Syria included bilateral dialogue, a regional initiative and international solidarity on Syria. Davutoğlu said Turkey had talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as part of the first stage but hopes faded after al-Assad did not implement a road map to reform.

Then, Turkey cooperated with the Arab League as a regional initiative, and the Arab League did everything it could for a solution but Syria did not keep its promises, Davutoğlu said. In the third step, Turkey, the Arab League and some other countries applied to the U.N. Security Council and tried to create international solidarity on the issue, but Russia and China precipitated a deadlock with their veto.

“Therefore, we are today making a new evaluation with the Arab League, and I will take up this issue with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Feb. 13,” Davutoğlu said.

Al-Assad turned into Milosevic

Davutoğlu said Turkey wanted to create an international platform to support the Syrian people and act in solidarity with them against massacres. Asked about the platform’s intended name, Davutoğlu said: “We won’t make a [decision] on its name for now. It could be ‘Friends of Democratic Syria’ or other names; all these decisions will be taken after consultations.”

Davutoğlu also said Cold War structures should be erased from the Middle East and added that Turkey had hoped al-Assad would handle his country’s crisis like ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev but he turned into former Yugoslavian leader Slobadon Milosevic instead.

“We had good relations with al-Assad for nine years because he was not fighting against his people. We wanted [al-Assad] to be the Gorbachev of Syria, but he chose to be Milosevic. That is a problem,” Davutoğlu said.

He said al-Assad, ex-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, ex-Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi were all continuations of a Cold War ideology that should have ended in the 1990s. Davutoğlu also likened the present situation in Syria to what happened to Sarajevo during Milosevic’s rule in the 1990s.

 “Just like in Sarajevo, a city collapses day by day,” he said in reference to the central Syrian city of Homs.

February/11/2012

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