Turkey asks Russia to mount Syria pressure

Turkey asks Russia to mount Syria pressure

PARIS - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey asks Russia to mount Syria pressure

This file photo shows Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu (R) with his Russian counterpart Lavrov during a meeting in Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has asked Russia to put more pressure on Syria to implement the cease-fire that was to have gone into effect April 12 in accordance with a plan by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Davutoğlu met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday in Brussels, and the two foreign ministers discussed the state of affairs in Syria since the cease-fire. “I asked him to deliver the message to Damascus that the ceasefire is not fully implemented. Implementation of the ceasefire is of vital importance,” Davutoğlu told reporters travelling with him on a train from Brussels to Paris.

Lavrov said Damascus was complaining about the opposition’s efforts to sabotage the ceasefire, Davutoğlu said. He told Lavrov he would stay in touch and share information on developments on the ground. “I told Lavrov that stability in Syria benefits both Turkey and Russia. That’s why we have supported al-Assad in the past. We thought he could maintain stability in Syria. But now he is posing a risk for Syrian and regional stability.”
Davutoğlu also met with U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague to discuss developments in Syria. Davutoğlu said he briefed all of the NATO ministers Wednesday night and provided them with some visual materials showing where the clashes are happening. “All of the ministers expressed their support for Turkey and promised to extend their hands in the event of a major influx [of refugees from Syria] into Turkey,” he said.

Davutoğlu also attended the third meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People in Paris, with the participation of the heavyweights of the group, including representatives from 14 countries. Apart from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppe, Hague and Davutoğlu, ministers from Saudi Arabia and Qatar were also present. The group was scheduled to issue a statement on further steps the Friends would take, including some further financial and economic sanctions. The sanctions will likely be endorsed by the EU in an April 23 meeting.