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Turkey ready to back any NATO move on Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- As Syria’s army continues pounding the rebel city of Homs, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced his intention to launch an “initiative” on the Syrian crisis, while official Turkish sources have stressed that Ankara “has again put all options on the table” regarding the Syria.

Turkish diplomatic sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that among the ideas proposed in Ankara is a call for an international conference for “supporters of the Syrian people and opponents of the regime” to be held in Istanbul. Other Turkish sources spoke of other possible initiatives including “supporting the domestic Syrian protests to overthrow the regime as foreign intervention falters.”

Prime Minister Erdogan gave a speech Tuesday, breaking a three-week silence on the Syrian issue. During that period, Syrian oppositionists criticised Erdogan for failing “to make good on his promises. In his speech, The Turkish Prime Minister warned that those who committed the Homs massacre will be held accountable. Addressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan said, “You are walking down a dead-end road. I advise you for the last time to backtrack on this path before shedding more blood and killing more innocent people.”

Ersat Hurmuzlu a senior adviser to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country will immediately begin broad consultations. He pointed out that “solutions in Syria must be decided by the Syrian people, and the road map for this solution must be decided by the Syrian people.” He criticized the Chinese and Russian use of veto at the UN Security Council, which has increased violence in Syria.

Hurmuzlu told Asharq Al-Awsat, “We will immediately hold consultations with the Arab League and the GCC states. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu will travel to Washington for talks with US officials to exchange views over the Syrian crisis.” He added that, “We cannot remain silent about the bloodshed just because there is what is called veto at the UN Security Council.”

Hurmuzlu spoke of “particular measures that will be taken and that will be decided after agreement on a road map with the states supporting the Syrian people.” He added: “We expect good results from the GCC states’ ministerial council’s meeting so that we can form a clear picture. He said that “the international community should shoulder its responsibility and every state should shoulder its moral responsibility.” He said that the Syrian people should know that we will support all their options and aspirations. When we faced one of two options, we stood with the Syrian people, not with the Baath Party regime.” He refused to clarify the nature of these measures, saying that Turkey “will naturally choose the right path after consultation with our friends and allies, but I cannot declare our options through media outlets.”

An official in the Turkish prime minister’s office told Asharq Al-Awsat that notwithstanding his appeal to Al-Assad “to back off his wrong path,” Erdogan is now convinced that Al-Assad has lost his credibility after he pledged more than once to introduce reforms but failed to make good on his promises. This official said that the options to which Turkey will resort will be determined in the next few days, particularly in the absence of any positive signs from the Syrian party, and the continuing killing and bloodshed. He said that the situation in Syria is getting worse day after day. He pointed out that Erdogan has several options and views that he will articulate through contacts with Turkish leaders in the next few days.

This Turkish official played down the criticism levelled by certain Syrian opposition groups at Erdogan and Turkey. He said that Turkey’s support for the Syrian people is firm and unquestionable even though some people expect this support to be translated in various ways.

A prominent official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry yesterday stressed that his country “has not yet made a decision to recall the Turkish ambassador to Damascus and expel the Syrian ambassador from Ankara.” Yet he noted that this “does not mean that such a decision will not be made.” This source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s visit to Washington was decided a month ago. He noted that Davutoglu, who will spend approximately one week in Washington, has an agenda full of meetings and discussions with US officials. He pointed out that his visit will deal with several dossiers, not only the Syrian issue, and that his agenda has other important issues to be discussed, such as the Iranian nuclear program and terrorism.

This source added that Turkey tried all possible means with the Syrian regime to reach results. We tried bilateral talks, he said, and the Turkish foreign minister visited Damascus twice, so did the Turkish intelligence chief. He added that Turkey also received Syrian officials, but all to no avail. We tried regional moves by supporting the Arab League’s initiative, but all efforts reached nowhere, he added. Regrettably, efforts to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis at the UN Security Council also ended in failure because the Chinese and Russian delegates vetoed the bill on Syria. This source said that “Turkey will not continue to wait indefinitely.” He said that the countries that do not support the Syrian regime but the Syrian people will try to work out a framework for action. He revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that among the options proposed is to hold an international-regional conference on Syria to be hosted by Istanbul as soon as possible to draw up a unified action plan and make specific initiatives on the situation in Syria.