Gov’t under fire for Syria policies
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrian refugees hold a demonstration in favor of Turkey at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Boynueğin in Hatay province in this file photo. Turkish opposition leader (inset) slams government for Syria sanctions. REUTERS photoTurkey’s main opposition yesterday charged that sanctions slapped on Syria would deal a blow on trade and raised questions over Syrian refugee camps as news emerged they had been equipped with winter-proof tents that quake victims lacked in Van.
In a written response to a parliamentary question, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin said the tents initially erected for the Syrians had been replaced with new carpeted ones “that can withstand all climate conditions [-20 degrees Celsius],” and that the refugees had been provided with winter clothes and extra blankets.
Winter temperatures in Hatay vary between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius during the day and between 3 and 4 degrees at night, even though they can sometimes fall to -5 degrees, Şahin said. The expenditure for the refugees is provided by the Disaster and Emergency Fund, which has so far allocated 20.7 million Turkish Liras, he said.
Ali Özgündüz, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker who submitted the question to Şahin, said, “Cold-proof tents are being sent to Hatay, even though the weather there is mild, while the poor people in Van are freezing in summer tents.”
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, he said the government appeared to cater to the members of the Syrian opposition, who are also taking shelter at the camps in Hatay.
“I wonder whether they are providing all that comfort to the dissidents who are being trained in the camps so that they can go to Syria and do their mission easily,” he said.
Worry over trade losses
Slamming the government’s approach to Syria after Ankara announced a series of sanctions against Damascus, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu renewed charges that Syrian dissidents were receiving military training in Turkey as part of policies dictated by Western powers.
“Why are we meddling so much in someone else’s problems when we have so many problems of our own?” he said. ”Does it suit Turkey to have armed forces being trained in Turkey to make trouble in another country? It is not right.”
CHP lawmakers representing Hatay warned that the population of the border province would suffer the most because of Ankara’s sanctions as they hit commercial relations.
“You cannot just ignore the 2 million Hatay citizens in the name of being a U.S. sub-contractor,” Hatay Deputy Mevlüt Dudu said. “There is no guarantee that the internal strife that is being staged in Syria today will not be put in action in our country too.”
Hatay Deputy Mehmet Ali Ediboğlu said the investments of Turkish businessmen in Syria “have been thrown in danger” and major financial losses could follow.
He rejected suggestions the CHP was siding with Bashar al-Assad and said all parties in Syria must renounce violence and go to elections to decide the country’s rulers.