Your victory is near, PM tells Syrians in Turkey
Özgür Ekşi GAZİANTEP - Hürriyet Daily News
Brutality is not eternal, Prime Minister Erdoğan tells Syrians who fled to Turkey. DAILY NEWS photo
Turkey will continue to support the Syrian people and take care of refugees until the regime is defeated, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday as he hailed a looming victory for the opposition during a visit to a border camp where thousands of displaced Syrians take shelter.
“Your victory is not far away. Brutality is not eternal. All those pharaohs and dictators in the past paid the price for their brutality and passed away, leaving an indelible black stain,” Erdoğan told refugees in the so-called “container city” near the Öncüpınar border crossing in the southern Anatolian province of Gaziantep.
The premier visited the camp amid tight security measures, on the eve of today’s parliamentary election in Syria, which President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has portrayed as a sign of its willingness to carry out reforms.
His speech frequently interrupted by cheers, Erdoğan vowed that Turkey would continue its efforts in the international arena to drum up support against the regime. “Bashar is getting weaker each and every day. The curses of my Syrian brothers will not be left unanswered. God willing, those who brutalize our brothers will be held accountable,” Erdoğan said. “Your suffering is our suffering. Your troubles are our troubles. Don’t lose hope. Turkey will stand by you until the end. And I believe and I pray that Allah is also with you.” Standing next to him atop a bus, Erdoğan’s wife Emine Erdoğan was seen shedding tears.
Several people reported hearing gunfire on the Syrian side of the border during Erdoğan’s speech.
Speaking earlier in the day at a congress of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the city of Gaziantep, Erdoğan voiced confidence that al-Assad would go “sooner or later.” “God willing, a new process will sooner or later begin in Syria in which all Syrians will have sovereignty. We will continue to defend the rights of our brothers there and to host those of them who have come here until the will of the people comes to power in Syria,” he said.
Waving Turkish flags and chanting anti-Assad slogans, hundreds of refugees greeted Erdoğan at the camp, while some children brandished posters left over from the AKP’s 2011 election campaign. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and five other ministers accompanied the Prime Minister.
Erdoğan pledged that Turkey would continue to take care of the refugees until they decide to return of their own will and in safety.
The “container city,” run by the Turkish Red Crescent, is currently home to about 9,600 Syrians, nearly half of them children, who have fled the unrest in their country. Located just across the Öncüpınar border crossing, it is the camp where fire from the Syrian side left several people injured last month, prompting harsh Turkish warnings to Damascus. It is the most organized and well-equipped camp, where the refugees stay not in tents but container homes with kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. It also has kindergartens and social facilities where the refugees can watch television and use computers and washing machines. The authorities have allowed three shops to open inside the camp, where the refugees will soon be able to do shopping with special chip cards that they will be issued. The camp has a capacity to accommodate a total of 12,000 people.
At the AKP congress, Erdoğan also rejected opposition criticism that the government’s policy of “zero problems with neighbors” had collapsed, vowing that Ankara would not stay silent in the face of oppression and injustice in the region. “We stand by our policy and insist on ‘zero problems.’ Zero problems does not mean turning a blind eye to brutality, oppression and bloodshed. Zero problems does not mean staying mum and bowing down in the face of injustice,” he said.