TIRANA - Anadolu Ajansı
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu speaks during a press briefing with his albanian counterpart Ditmir Bushati in Tirana, Oct. 5. AA photo
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
has dismissed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's claims that the Turkish government supports extremist terrorist groups, saying Ankara
would not accept any accusation coming from the war-torn country's leader.
"The Turkish people know, just as the whole world knows, that all [al-Assad's] remarks are groundless and incompatible with reality," Davutoğlu said during a visit to the Albanian capital Tirana, responding to the Syrian president's statements in an interview with Turkish broadcaster Halk TV.
"Bashar al-Assad oppressed his own people and then used chemical weapons. As someone who has used chemical weapons, he has no right to direct any criticism at Turkey," Davutoğlu added.
He also deplored the fact that al-Assad's accusations were being widely reported in the Turkish media. "The fact that someone who used chemical weapons against his own people accuses Turkey and finds media coverage in the Turkish press is saddening," Davutoğlu said.
The foreign minister also sought to emphasize that both he and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
had held talks with al-Assad to convince him about reforming the Syrian regime. "We held multiple meetings, for hours and days, but unfortunately he chose the path of oppressing his own people instead of cooperating with the government of Turkey," he said.
"This is why we don't take these claims [about supporting extremism] seriously. Turkey has always worked for Syria's peace and tranquility," Davutoğlu added.
During a joint interview with Halk TV and daily Yurt, al-Assad warned that Turkey would "pay dearly" for supporting rebels fighting to "overthrow his regime."
"In the near future these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey. Turkey will pay very dearly for its contribution," he said.
Al-Assad particularly expressed harsh criticism against Erdoğan, accusing him of "lying" and "supporting terrorists."
The interview came short after the Turkish Parliament extended for one year a mandate that would allow the country to send troops to Syria if necessary.