Ankara cautiously welcomes Syria deal

Ankara cautiously welcomes Syria deal

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
The signing of a long-expected deal between Syria and the Arab League has been cautiously welcomed by the government, which underlined the need to see its implementation rather than signature.

However, for the opposition parties, the deal is a clear indication of the Turkish government’s failure in its Syria policies. 

“Both Turkey and the Arab League’s stances [concerning Syria] are well-known. It would be a positive move if Syria would accept the plan as a whole and without any preconditions,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters yesterday in the Central Anatolia province of Konya. Davutoğlu said he talked with his Qatari counterpart on the phone Dec. 18 to discuss the development but did not further elaborate on the issue. 

Turkish diplomats, on the other hand, said Turkey was advocating the Arab League-backed process from the very beginning and will continue to work with the 22 country bloc afterward. “Turkey will very closely follow the plan’s implementation and whether it will help in ending the crackdown on protestors,” diplomats said, referring the distrust created by the Bashar al-Assad regime. 

But for the opposition parties, the signing of the deal is clear evidence that “Turkey has been pushed out of play on Syria due to the government’s wrong policies.”

“If existing policies would not have been amended we will stay out of both Syria and the Arab League’s initiative,” Faruk Loğoğlu, deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday following a week-long trip to the United States last week. 
“And already out of all such efforts, the government is insisting on a threatening policy in the line of Washington and Brussels,” he said. 
Davutoğlu’s zero-problems-with-neighbors policy totally nixed Turkey’s influence in the region, Loğoğlu said. “Contrary to what is claimed by the government, Turkey’s influence is becoming confined both from the East and the West. France is likely to adopt a resolution on so-called Armenian genocide, the U.S. recently a bill [calling on Turkey “to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties”] despite the fact we are having brilliant ties nowadays.” 

Loğoğlu, who led a CHP delegation visiting Washington and New York last week, said he got the impression the government’s Syria policy was making U.S. officials “very happy.” 

“Washington seems to be focused on Syria. As they find Turkey’s polices sufficient and right, they are ‘happy.’ In addition, we understand that Turkey’s stance vis-a-vis Iran does also add to their happiness. Beyond that, they have also clinched the idea that Turkey could be a model to the Arab countries,” he said. 

But the Syria case will not help to build a healthy and lasting relationship between Turkey and the U.S., Loğoğlu said. “It has to be built on more solid ground based on lasting joint values and interests. We told the Americans to think how ties would be affected if things would change in Syria in the future.” 

The deputy leader said the CHP was on the same page with the government in demanding a more democratic regime in Syria but differed on the methods. “This policy the government and Washington follow will only bring about long lasting bloody, violent and probably sectarian armed conflict,” he said.