Turkish PM urges UN to act on Syria
Enis Berberoğlu SHANGHAI / Hürriyet
AA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged the United Nations to take immediate action on the crisis in Syria, saying that he will increase the frequency of contact with Russia.
Speaking to reporters yesterday during his trip to China, Erdoğan also commented on other issues, including the Kurdish problem and the saga surrounding National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan.
Have you received news of the latest decision of the United Nations Security Council?
We see that Bashar is not fulfilling his promises, while the opposition continues to observe the pledges it made to Kofi Annan. A decision has come out that is disposed toward the United Nations giving more attention to the matter. We are going to continue working by monitoring this more closely. The number of people who died after crossing to our side has risen to four. The death toll on the Syrian side is approaching 10,000. The situation is lamentable... Laying waste to cities, people being murdered relentlessly before their mothers’ eyes... These are the issues I related to the Chinese side. They said they did not approve of the situation. I reminded them that they issued eight veto decisions at the U.N., two of which were related to Syria. I told them such an attitude would not be so easy after this point; they did not say “no.” We are going to increase the frequency of our contact with Russia as soon as we return back. We will be traveling to Saudi Arabia for a day on Thursday evening. Then I will be visiting the camps if circumstances allow it. I wish to see the camps on the ground. I want to see them on the ground.
Is Turkey’s attitude and position with respect to Syria intended to get the U.N. to make a decision?
This is a matter we have been pursuing since the beginning, and which has gained greater urgency. The number of incoming refugees has multiplied twofold. It has almost reached a boiling point. There is footage. These people get shot while they are running away. There are people dying and getting wounded. There is the cry of the mothers. They told Kofi Annan how their homes were smashed and how their children’s throats were slit. If the U.N. does not follow this through, then what will it follow through? We will follow it through. Turkey’s sensitivities are self-evident. We ought to lay this bare at the highest levels and follow it through in front of the U.N.’s view. Assent to cruelty amounts to cruelty; you cannot approve this. They view their people as terrorists. I explained this position to them and told them that they were speaking with Bashar’s attitude and language. Please do not speak with their language. Can a tiny child, a babe, be a terrorist? This contradicts your religious values. You cannot attack or hit upon a defenseless person in our value system. How could you call this a terrorist? These are the people. What are tanks doing on the streets where the people are? There was a very ugly thing about Turkey being the servant of the West. Al-Assad would like to shift the matter onto a very different plane. I told this to the [Iranian] religious leader, too. “This war is between Arab nationalists and Islamists.” Look, this is what Bashar is saying. They did not assess this picture. Al-Assad will try to disperse the Arab League by shifting the matter onto a different plane, or so he thinks.
The Army Commander issued a warning to Syria in 1998. Have you followed suit?
This is very different from the affair in ’98; no such thing had happened back then. Gen. Atilla had made such an assertion. Now there is the matter of border violation. There were armed attacks transgressing our borders yesterday as well. This almost constitutes a signal flare with respect to international law. The perpetrator cannot get away with this. We are not interested in the attitude adopted by one country or another. The Turkish Republic has its own unique stance. History attests to this. Turkey ought to do what was done in similar situations in the least.
We are never going to close the door on our brothers coming from Syria. If Syria keeps pounding, then they must bear the consequences. The U.N. must convene and make its decision. Institutions and bodies that came together in Istanbul must put the squeeze on and get the U.N. to make a decision.
The worst is when they acknowledge that you are right and do nothing about it. What are Turkey’s options when the situation reaches this point?
Options are plentiful. There is a country endowed with certain rights born out of international law against border violations. It is self-evident what they would do and the stance they would adopt vis-a-vis the violation of its borders. These are all matters for debate. The U.N. has also announced this. It said there was a border violation. These are all issues that will be laid down on the table. These are all issues on which we would take steps after holding our last talks. Moreover, NATO also has duties regarding Turkey’s borders, according to the fifth article.
What would the situation in Syria look like after al-Assad? They say the Baath regime would stay put?
The Baath regime stands on its feet thanks to the current administration. It fell apart in Iraq along with Saddam; now only its remnants are about. I am of the opinion that the situation in Syria is no different. The sectarian structure there is much more different than in Iraq. I expect the speedy introduction of a multi party democratic life [in Syria].
There are concerns within the AKP that its internal regulations on not being elected again after three terms may shake its power? What is your evaluation on it?
Our valuable press members for many years wrote that those who gain power do not know how to leave it. We have discussed this issue thoroughly when we established this party. Are we going to be like the past versions, are we going to renew our cells? We are not leaving the party, it means a rest for one term. We are keeping our main structure. In order to renew our cells in the party, we haven’t shown 160 of our friends as candidates. This hasn’t blocked our power. We kept going by increasing our power. From now on Turkey should know how to walk with principles, not with mortal things. Tayyip Erdoğan is mortal, what is going to happen if he is dead? My citizens will then do whatever they are doing now. If we try to construct our movement on mortal figures we can never gain power. When our term is finished we will keep working whatever mission our party is giving us. We will keep touring Anatolia, we will join conferences and seminars. Ak Party is a party that has realized its institutionalizing in the most ideal way. The women branches youth branches… Is there any party that makes polls every 2-3 months? We keep searching wherever there is a need. We are trying to fix them.
How do you evaluate the last comments of the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP]?
We are a party that has embraced all ethnic formations. We have about 60 deputies with Kurdish origin. I have five Kurdish ministers in my cabinet. I am not carrying them as objects. Even Mr. Bekir [Bozdağ, Deputy PM] is Kurdish, he is of Kurdish origin. Yet even Mr. Binali [Yıldırım, Minister of Transport] doesn’t know that. I don’t have any such problems, therefore we are close to one another. Our love towards each-other is the same. The others’ approach, I mean the BDP, is on the direction of a Kurdish party. We are saying that their [BDP’s] approach is wrong. They are doing this to get more votes. However, we are getting the Kurdish votes on a first level. We are the party of Turkey. I am from Rize, they call me Laz [a Black Sea people] but I have nothing to do with it. Mr. Nusret [Bayraktar, deputy from Black Sea province of Rize] is Laz yet no one knows it. The fact that we are an embracing party and we are working towards it has carried us up to this level. Let’s place this into our new constitution and the citizenship of Turkish Republic will embrace everyone. There is nothing bothering in this, the bothering part is the other one. There is a logic here that breaks the routine, we want to solve it.
Is it true that you have asked for an investigation about the decision of testification the Undersecretary of National Intelligence Organization [MİT] Hakan Fidan?
It is impossible to stay quiet about the developments on the MİT incident. Why? It was a process that coincided with my recovery period. [He is] my secretive. [He is] the state of the Republic of Turkey’s secretive. [He is] the secretive of the future of Turkey. Those who undertake this mission in the international arena are defined as agents. When they have an operation, they undertake the mission in the name of the state. It exists in the United States, Russia, China and all Western countries. I am the one who sent him to İmralı [prison island where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is serving his life sentence], I also sent him to Oslo. Why? Because there is an apparent problem. We have to be successful in the fight against terror. For this, we need to have some information exchange. All of those that appeared in newspapers are none that my undersecretary has promised; all of them are lies. Nothing is written. There have been talks, negotiations, but never promises. Those who have said them are all engaged in an effort whether they could obtain any political gains or they could collect anything. I’m very, very happy of his efforts. He has made my county gain a lot both before and both after and also now. He was good also when he was deputy undersecretary and while he was at the head of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency [TİKA]. He is a well-equipped bureaucrat. We are not a machine that chops people. While this person was to be appreciated, there were circles who tried to spend this man, primarily the main opposition party...
The judiciary has stepped into a field outside its jurisdiction. When it felt like it was at a position that it had no right [to be in], then I’m sorry but, it would see us opposing it. The judiciary cannot regard itself above the executive. It tried to pull the undersecretary into the trial process through the 250 issue [relevant article in the Code of Criminal Procedure [CMUK)]. I’m talking about this issue for the first time.
The Office of the President has approved the education bill. The families of 17 million students are wondering whether or not the practice will be ready for the next term. Will it be ready?
You should have no doubts that all our plans have been made so that it will be ready. It will run as smoothly as a knife through butter without allowing any problems except for a few minor issues.
What will happen if the Constitutional Court annuls the seven-year term of the presidency?
The Constitutional Court will make its own interpretation. It is not correct for us to talk before it makes its interpretation.
Is there an advance in economic relations with China?
They are in favor of developing economic relations. They have expressed their wish to cooperate in the fields of the bridge over the Bosphorus, the railway network and nuclear energy. We wish that we can provide the Chinese capital to flow into Turkey.