Syrian Turkmens ask equality in opposition

Syrian Turkmens ask equality in opposition

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrian Turkmens ask equality in opposition

Turkish PM Erdoğan (R) meets with a delegation of Syrian Turkmens in Istanbul. They ask Turkey’s help in having equal representation in the opposition. AA photo

Syrian Turkmens want equal representation with Arabs, Kurds and other groups in the main opposition body, the Syrian National Coalition, according to population-based measures, a prominent member of the Syrian Turkmen Congress said yesterday.

“Our population is around 3.5 million in Syria, which is more than Kurds. However we have only been given three seats in the Syrian National Coalition, whereas Kurds have been given nine seats. The opposition body continues with the Baath mentality that has ignored the Turkmens for decades,” Bekir Atacan told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

The first congress of the Syrian Turkmen Platform took place on Dec. 15 and 16 in Istanbul. Around 1,000 Syrian Turkmens convened in Istanbul to make their voice heard by the international community. Dr. Mohamed Ceren, the coordinator of the congress said the platform aimed to unite all Syrian Turkmens under one roof.

Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have also attended the first day of the meeting. Davutoğlu said Turkey had supported the struggle of the Syrian people from the beginning, adding that Turkey pursued an open-door policy for Syrian people asking to cross into Turkey.

Atacan said they had passed their request to be better represented in the Syrian National Coalition on to Turkish authorities as well. “The Turkish government has been standing at an equal distance to all the opposition groups in Syria. However we believe there is an inequity toward the Turkmens here. We have shared this situation also with Turkish authorities, and we have asked them to look for our rights in order to have equal representation with the other groups in the opposition,” he said. “We want to have equal rights with the Arabs and Kurds; we are against any kind of disintegration,” Atacan said.

Identity of ‘Syrian’

The final document of the Syrian Turkmen Platform said, “Regardless of any ethnic or religious identity, a future in which everybody can be able to live commonly under the identity of ‘Syrian’ is targeted in the future of Syria.”

A delegation from the Syrian Turkmen Congress also visited the office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 15. According to an Anatolia news agency report, Erdoğan said all parties should act carefully in order to prevent an ethnic or sectarian clash in Syria.