Foreign Minister waits solid steps from Syria on unrest

Foreign Minister waits solid steps from Syria on unrest

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Foreign Minister waits solid steps from Syria on unrest

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rally in Tartaus near Damascus in this photo released by official SANA news ageny Dec 9.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu chaired a meeting with senior officials over Syrian refugee camps along the border while also urging Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to accept Arab League observers and punish “murderers.”

Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan as well as military officials and representatives of the disaster emergency agency took part in the meeting in Ankara on Dec. 9.

“They discussed the camps in Hatay. It was an evaluation and coordination meeting concerning solely with internal security,” a Foreign Ministry source said.

The authorities have said earlier they planned to move some of the 8,000 refugees from Hatay to the neighboring province of Kilis.Speaking earlier at a meeting with the Diplomatic Correspondents Association (DMD), Davutoğlu said that Al-Assad’s remarks to ABC television, in which he drew a distinction between himself and the military, amounted to “a sort of confession that he does not fully control the [state] system.” He accepts the security forces might have committed mistakes outside his control. If he is sincere, he must immediately punish those murderers, accept the Arab League observers and change the atmosphere. He still has the opportunity,” Davutoğlu said. Referring to main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s accusations that Ankara’s flourishing ties with Damascus had changed “overnight” under Western influence, Davutoğlu said “this could be true if he has just awakened after going to bed in January.” “If internal developments in other countries affect us and pose a security risk, we do not have the luxury to just wait and see,” he said, brushing aside criticism that Ankara’s policy against Syria amounted to meddling.

Turkey made its first reform calls to al-Assad in 2005, as it hoped improved economic ties would help strengthen a Syrian middle class that would itself initiate democratic transformation, the minister said. “As a democratic country we cannot stand by an autocratic regime. [But] there was no bloodshed in Syria last year,” he said, defending Ankara’s close ties with the regime until recently. On the possibility of renewed Syrian support for Kurdish militants, he said, “We don’t believe they will have the courage to make such a mistake. They have past experience with us on this.” Davutoğlu said Syrian turmoil was high on the agenda when he met twice this week with Iranian counterpart Ali Akhbar Salehi at international gatherings in Jeddah and Bonn. “Our ties are in their peak era. We confirmed that mutually. Those who want to foment discord between Turkey and Iran will not succeed. We may have disagreements, but the way to reduce them is to meet and talk more,” he said.


GAZİANTEP – Doğan News Agency

The Syrian Consulate in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep will be permanently shut down as of Dec. 26, according to a statement posted to the consulate building. The consulate was closed temporarily beginning Dec. 2 as the tension between Ankara and Damascus escalated due to the Turkey’s sanctions. The statement signed by Consulate General Muhammed Necdet Şehit was written in Arabic.