Syrian crisis isn’t just about chemicals, says Turkish president
The crisis in Syria isn’t solely about solving the chemical weapons issue, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said Sept.11. DHA PhotoThe crisis in Syria isn’t solely about solving the chemical weapons issue, Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said, while also adding that Russia’s proposal for the Syrian regime to hand over its chemical weapons is a significant development.
“We already knew that there was a great amount of chemical weapons in one of our neighboring countries. So cleansing Syria of chemical weapons is a significant development. One should be grateful for this. But this should not become a tactic; it should be a real cleansing. The second dimension to this is that the issue is not solely about chemical weapons,” Gül told reporters on Sept. 11, following the International Financial Systems Forum in Istanbul.
The Syrian foreign minister said Sept. 10 that his government was ready to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile in line with the proposal, in order “to thwart U.S. aggression.”
However, Gül called on the U.S. authorities to not view the situation only in terms of chemical weaponry and also recognize the broader situation in the Syrian civil war, where over 100,000 people have been killed so far.
“There is a country here where over 100,000 people have been killed, where a cruel civil war reigns, where people’s cities are destroyed. This must be stopped. There has to be a political strategy as a way out. Otherwise, no one can accept things going as they are,” he said, adding that the overturning of the chemical weapons did not dismiss the need for a real solution in the war-stricken country.
Foreign Ministry welcomes proposal
“There is a need for a political exit strategy to form a new strategy that can end the war and allow people to live in their own country. It is very saddening that this hasn’t been brought forth yet,” Gül said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü said that Turkey welcomes the proposal that would allow Syria to surrender chemical weapons to the control of the international community, but such a move would not abolish the Syrian regime’s responsibility for past incidents where chemical weapons were used,
“Any new process should not abolish obligation of accountability [for using chemical agents by the Syrian regime] anyway,” Gümrükçü said at a press conference on Sept.11.
The use of chemical weapons is just one part of the crisis in Syria, but not the sole element, he added, citing that due to the Syrian regime’s “violence” more than 100,000 people had been killed and more than 2 million displaced.
The international community should perceive that all these elements are threats against international and regional peace and security, and develop a strategy accordingly, Gümrükçü stated.
“Turkey’s expectation is that the U.N. should respond to its responsibility on Syria with integrity. This is Turkey’s priority. However, heading for tactical steps and falling into a trap, rather than taking steps that would pursue essence of Syrian crisis in order to produce a solution, will be misleading steps,” he said.
Turkish foreign ministry officials Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Ömer Önhon recently conducted diplomatic traffic with U.S., French and Russian officials regarding Turkey’s views about recent proposal for surrendering Syria’s chemical weapons to the international community’s oversight. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has yet to hold a phone conversation with his colleagues regarding the proposal, Gümrükçü said.