Turkey is trying to avert Syria’s division, FM says

Turkey is trying to avert Syria’s division, FM says

TUNIS/ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey is trying to avert Syria’s division, FM says

If Damascus is attempting to divide Syria as a “Plan B” to deal with the current unrest, then Turkey will work to prevent that, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.

“If [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad has a plan to divide the country, we will work to prevent that. If anyone has such a thing on their mind, all our efforts are to avert that,” Davutoğlu said yesterday in response to reports that Damascus’ “Plan B” was to establish a state for Nusayris, the sectarian group from which the al-Assad family is drawn.

Speaking to a group of journalists on his flight from Tunisia, in which he participated in the “Friends of Syria” meeting, Davutoğlu said one of the most important achievements of the gathering was recognizing the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The minister said he hoped al-Assad would take heed of the message that was sent at the large Tunis meeting.

Asked if Turkey would recall its ambassador to Syria, the minister said Turkey preferred in principle to keep its missions open and retain avenues of communication with the people of other countries. “But if we had to make that decision, we will,” he added.

Elaborating on the possibility of military intervention in Syria, the minister said they did not want a civil war in the country but instead wanted a solution “without any division or war.”

“We have not lost our hopes for a peaceful solution,” Davutoğlu said.

The minister said Turkey would keep on discussing the Syrian issue with Russia and China, the two world powers that vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Damascus earlier this month.

Ahead of second the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul, Davutoğlu said he would have meetings with Syrian opposition groups and added that a meeting would take place in Istanbul gathering the Christian minorities of the region, including Syrians.

Turkey wants all religions and sects to live together in the Middle East, Davutoğlu said.

Asked if he would visit France for the third “Friends of Syria” meeting despite the row between the two administrations due to the French Parliament’s adoption of a law criminalizing denial of the events of 1915 as genocide, Davutoğlu said, “We hope the problem will be solved before that meeting.”

Meanwhile, the foreign minister also celebrated his birthday en route from Tunisia back to Turkey. The airplane’s hostess produced a cake for the occasion, while passengers also serenaded Davutoğlu with a Turkish rendition of “Happy Birthday.”