Gül warns Syria of cross border raids
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish President Abdullah Gül. AA photo
Ankara could be forced to launch a cross-border operation against Syria if Damascus were to allow the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to attack Turkey from its territory, President Abdullah Gül has said during a state visit to Britain.
“I don’t think the Syrian government would make that kind of mistake” in allowing the PKK to conduct attacks from the Arab republic’s territory, Gül told the daily Guardian on Nov. 22, adding that “terrorist groups” had been trying to sabotage the process of reforms in Turkey.
Gül’s comments were part of a wider verbal attack against the Syrian regime, which cannot survive, according to the president.
“Unfortunately, Syria has come to a point of no return,” Gül said yesterday during a speech in London at the Wilton Park conference, a forum of dialogue for leading opinion-makers.
At present, the whole region could be dragged into “turmoil and bloodshed” by the crisis, he said. “The Baath regime continues to use oppression and violence on its own people. Violence breeds violence.”
Turkey cannot remain indifferent to the demands of the Syrian people, Gül said, adding that Turkey was trying to convince the Syrian regime to begin a democratic transformation.
He said the fate of Syria, where the risk of civil war is looming, was “important for the entire region since the country sits on top of sectarian fault lines … Defining this democratic struggle along sectarian, religious and ethnic lines would drag the whole region into turmoil and bloodshed.”
People in the region see Turkey as a source of inspiration for democracy, Gül said, adding that they deserve peaceful and honorable lives.
Speaking after talks with Gül on Nov. 22, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “Today, we have had important discussions on Syria where now a full-scale civil war is a real possibility.”
Israel risks isolation
During his speech yesterday, Gül also took aim at Israel, warning it of increased isolation if it maintained its present course of action.
As long as Israel does not respect international law and maintains an uncompromising attitude toward a fair, valid and comprehensive peace with the Palestinians, it will remain isolated, Gül said during a speech in London at the Wilton Park conference, a forum of dialogue for leading opinion-makers.
“I am calling on Israeli authorities to approach the peace process with a strategic mentality instead of tactical moves,” he said.
“Not everyone says what goes through his or her mind, but it is clear what [Israel’s] loyal allies think about them when the microphone incident occurred,” he said, referring to the recent “hot mic” gaffe at the G-20 summit earlier this month when French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “liar” during what he thought was a private conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama. A microphone in the area, however, was able to record Sarkozy’s words.
Gül said Israel had not displayed an open-minded attitude during the peace process. Although Tel Aviv has said peace should be assured, it has contradicted itself by constructing mass housing units in the occupied territories, he said.
Meanwhile, answering a question on Iran’s nuclear program, Gül said the issue should be solved through diplomatic means.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II hosted a dinner in honor of Gül and his wife, Hayrünnisa Gül, at Buckingham Palace on Nov. 22. Gül was scheduled to attend a luncheon yesterday at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and was also expected to attend an event hosted by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Clarence House Hotel. Later in the day, he was also expected to address members of political parties at Westminster and attend a dinner hosted by the London mayor during his visit.
Compiled from AA and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.