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Syria must complete reform within next two weeks – Turkish presidential adviser | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Turkish diplomatic sources have expressed their hope that the events that are taking place close to their border with Syria do not represent “a Syrian response to the advice issued by Turkey” earlier this week. Senior Turkish presidential adviser Ersat Hurmuzlu informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – delivered by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during his latest visit to Damascus – informed Damascus that Ankara “does not want to see anybody in the Syrian administration regretting what happened after it is too late.”

Turkish diplomatic sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Ankara is closely monitoring the situation in Syria, including the ongoing Syrian security operation, particularly after the Syrian security apparatus most recently stormed the town of Bdama, close to the Turkish border. The sources stressed that “if this is the Syrian response, then the forthcoming days will be extremely difficult.” However the Turkish diplomatic source refused to “anticipate events, because the Syrians promised to take certain steps, and we are waiting to see this.”

Turkish presidential adviser Ersat Hurmuzlu also denied that Ankara had given Damascus a “time limit of 15 days” to implement reform adding that “Turkey expects Syria to take action within the next few days, if they are sincere in their intentions, for reform must be completed within the next two weeks.”

Hurmuzlu also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “a letter [by Turkish President Abdullah Gul] addressed to al-Assad and delivered by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed the necessity of Syria putting an end to the bloodshed, releasing all the detainees, and immediately implementing reform that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people.”

The Turkish presidential adviser added that Turkish President Abdullah Gul – in this letter – stressed that “he does not want to see anybody in the Syrian administration regretting what happened after it is too late.” Hurmuzlu added that the Turkish Foreign Minister also informed al-Assad of the viewpoint of Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing “his clear message regarding the necessity of Syria immediately putting an end to the bloodshed, and not utilizing violence to suppress the peaceful protests.”

Hurmuzlu added the Syrians “listened to the Turkish advice, and they expressed an understanding of the necessity of withdrawing their military forces and apparatus from [Syrian] cities, and allowing Turkish press correspondents to enter the afore-mentioned cities.” He also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that a group of Turkish journalists had visited the effected Syrian areas, adding that “Turkey wants this [Turkish media presence] to become a permanent state of affairs, not merely part of an organized visit.” Hurmuzlu stressed that Ankara wants to ensure that Turkish journalists are allowed access to Syrian cities in order to provide the world with accurate information regarding what is happening on the ground in Syria.

In response to questions about the “two week time limit” that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke of, Hurmuzlu stressed that Ankara expects “Syrian movement [towards reform] in days rather than weeks; if they are sincere in their intentions to implement reforms then this must be implemented before the end of Ramadan.” He added that Turkey hopes that these reforms will represent “a shock” and include “a change in the form and image of the regime which meets the demands of the Syrian people.”

In the event of Syria failing to respond to the Turkish calls and implement reform, and continuing its policy of violence and suppression, Hurmuzlu stressed that Turkey “would expect what it warned against previously to take place, namely Syria finding itself confronting the international community, with strong international resolutions being issued against Damascus, as well as foreign intervention in Syria.”

Hurmuzlu stated that when the situation reaches the extent of a UN resolution being issued against Syria, then “all countries, including Turkey, will be obliged to implement this.” The Turkish presidential adviser also denied any scenario that would see “Turkish military intervention [in Syria] and the establishment of a buffer zone.”