Ankara-Turkey’s streets sank in the floods of conflicting comments concerning restoring relations with Syria and whether such a step would be taken under Bashar Assad’s regime or after he leaves.
Shortly following the statement of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who said Wednesday that Turkey is ready to normalize relations with Syria the way it did with Israel and Russia, and that it would improve its ties with Iraq to fight terrorists, the media rushed to broadcast his interview with the BBC channel in which he asserted that no changes will be made in the Turkish position regarding the Syrian file unless Assad is out of power.
Yildirim said that the main reason behind the Syrian crisis was Assad.
However, it was unclear whether Yildirim spoke to the BBC before his Wednesday’s comments or after them.
The Turkish Prime Minster said Assad was behind the killing of more than 500,000 Syrians and the displacement of more than 9 million others, including 3 million currently present on Turkish territories. He said Bashar Assad’s rule should change along with the presence of the terrorist ISIS organization.
“Things need to change in Syria, but first of all, Assad should change. Unless Assad changes, nothing changes in Turkey,” Yildirim said. “Assad has the main responsibility for things turning this way.”
Yildirim said: “Well, on one hand you have Assad and on the other you have ISIS. So which one do you prefer? Assad or ISIS? If you’re asking me which one, we won’t prefer any. Both have to go because it’s trouble for the Syrians.”
Yildirim also warned Western states no terrorist organization can be defeated with the help of another terrorist group.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources reiterated earlier comments published by Asharq Al-Awsat on July 9, saying Turkey might accept Assad for a transitional period in Syria.
The sources said the Syrian opposition had received reassurances in this regard and guarantees from the Turkish government that Ankara would not abandon the Syrian opposition or stop supporting it. The sources said Turkey believes it was necessary for Assad to leave, but that such a matter would not be achieved in the absence of an international agreement involving major powers, mainly the U.S. and Russia.
Yildirim’s comments coincided with the conditions Damascus announced to accept restoring its relations with Turkey. The pro-regime Al Watan newspaper said the Syrian Foreign Ministry had placed two conditions for normalizing relations with Turkey: Ankara should stop supporting terrorist organizations and prevent them from entering Syria.
An official at the Syrian Foreign Ministry told the newspaper that Ankara should take serious steps for normalizing relations between both countries by completely closing its borders with Syria to prevent the infiltration of terrorist groups.
On Wednesday, head of the Patriotic Party Dogu Perincek said normalizing relations between Syria and Turkey is currently conducted by parties with great influence in both countries. Perincek added that relations between Turkey and Syria “will be normalized soon.”
Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli clarified the current debate concerning the accommodation of Syrian refugees by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey, saying: “There is no free housing for them.”
Canikli said a large number of foreigners could not possess a house in Turkey. “Hundreds of thousands of unregistered foreigners currently live in Istanbul, and therefore, reorganizing this file would provide immense resources the city.”