Turkey’s main opposition leader urges gov’t to change Syria policy

Turkey’s main opposition leader urges gov’t to change Syria policy

Turkey’s main opposition leader urges gov’t to change Syria policy

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The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said Ankara’s Syria policy must change, stating that Turkey must no longer be a route for foreign fighters.

Ankara’s regional policy should remain at an equal distance from all religions and sects in the Middle East, CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said at the fifth Istanbul Forum in Istanbul on Jan. 19.

“Turkey can contribute to sustainability in the region only with such a policy. In this regard, its Syria policy should certainly change. The passage of foreign fighters should not be allowed by Turkey, which must take the required measures,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the current policy had led to Ankara’s severe “isolation.”

“A majority of society is concerned about both the future of Turkey and of the world. People are afraid that their children will grow up fearing terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL],” he said.

The CHP head also argued that Turkey’s continued “intervention in the internal business of Syria” is helping the formation of a counter-bloc of Iran, Russia and China.

“The international community has a widespread view that the Justice and Development Party [AKP] government is supporting al-Nusra and ISIL, with the resources of Gulf countries being used in this process. This has caused a serious uneasiness not only in Syria but also in Iraq, Iran and Russia,” he said.

“All we want is Turkey to be the source of peace and stability in the region, as it was in the past. The government’s ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy has turned into one of many unsolved problems.

Today, Turkey is an isolated country that has no effect in the region,” Kılıçdaroğlu added, referring to current Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s much publicized “zero problems with neighbors policy,” which has been badly compromised by tensions with Syria. 

Turkey’s southern regions now are now alike “Peshawer in Pakistan,” he said at the event, where he was addressing the audience as an honorary guest.

He warned that all democracies would face the problem of terrorism if they do not diagnose the problems properly, and said there are “sleeping” cells of radical ideologies in Turkey, which is a “serious, open and near threat.”

Kılıçdaroğlu called on Turkey not to ignore such a threat and to “take a clear stance against terrorism.”
“It is possible to both protect freedoms and social security,” the CHP leader said.

“Problems deriving from freedom, however big, are not more dangerous than the artificial security created in pressurized environments. We should not fight against freedom, but against an understanding that is the enemy of freedom. We want to protect democracy against its enemies,” he said.

“Turkey is moving away from the European Union membership, but we consider it a necessity for the country’s democracy and economy,” he added.

The AKP is trying to implement an understanding that collapsed at the start of the 20th century, rebranding it under the name “neo-Ottomanism,” Kılıçdaroğlu also said, adding that this had received a mixed reaction in Arab countries and took Turkey away from its historic allies.