Summit fails to meet Turkey’s expactations
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet DavutoğluTurkey has criticized the reluctance of the United Nations to heed its calls for safety zones inside Syrian territory to cope with the rapidly growing numbers of civilians fleeing violence.
“This is not a situation that Turkey can handle on its own, but only together with the international community,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told the Security Council on Aug 30, adding that the U.N. should act “without delay” to set up safe havens, warning that 80,000 Syrians were already in camps in Turkey, with 4,000 crossing the border every day.
“How long are we going to sit and watch while an entire generation is being wiped out by random bombardment and deliberate mass targeting?” Davutoğlu asked, slamming the Security Council’s failure to act. “Apparently, I was wrong about my expectations. This meeting will not even end with a presidential or press statement, let alone a robust resolution,” he added.
Criticism on representation
The foreign minister also criticized the level of representation of countries. “Not even all members are represented in this meeting at the level of foreign ministers. While I regret the absence of some of my colleagues, I would like to believe that their non-participation is not an indication of their level of interest and concern in view of the developments in Syria,” he said.
Before the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague held a joint news conference with France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to warn that there were “considerable difficulties” with the idea of protected enclaves for civilians.
“We are excluding no option for the future. We do not know how this crisis will develop,” Hague said. “It is steadily getting worse. We are ruling nothing out, we have contingency planning for a wide range of scenarios. But we also have to be clear that anything like a safe zone requires military intervention and that, of course, is something that has to be weighed very carefully.”
Speaking to reporters after his own speech, Davutoğlu lashed out at the disagreement that emerged from the meeting. “A historic opportunity has been missed,” Davutoğlu said in televised remarks. “Now is not the time to talk but to act. Turkey should not be expected to undertake the entire responsibility that the United Nations should take.”
However, U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres warned the council against safe zones. Guterres’ comments were echoed by the representatives of Russia and China. Meanwhile, Fabius said France planned to channel aid to rebel-held parts of Syria so that these “liberated zones” could administer themselves and stop the outflow of refugees. He said France and Turkey had identified areas in the north and south that had escaped President Bashar al-Assad’s control, creating a chance for local communities to govern themselves without feeling that they had to flee to neighboring countries.
Apaydın visit on Sept. 4
“Maybe in these liberated zones Syrians who want to flee the regime will find refuge, which in turn makes it less necessary to cross the border either to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan or Iraq,” Fabius said after the council’s meeting. In the meantime, following the governments approval, Parliament’s human rights inquiry body will visit the controversial Apaydın Refugee Camp, which is currently hosting Syrian military defectors. The Apaydın refugee camp has been at the top of the commission’s agenda after deputies from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) were not been allowed to visit the site. The CHP claimed the camp was a military base where the Free Syrian Army’s activities were directed.
The government strongly rejected these claims and announced that a parliamentary body would be allowed to visit the camp in the coming days. In this frame, a team composed by Nevzat Pakdil, Kerim Özkul and Cemal Yılmazdemir from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Refik Eryılmaz from the CHP and Atilla Kaya from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will visit this camp and others on Sept. 4. A delegation from the U.S. Senate is also expected to visit the camps soon.