Turkish President Hopes Syria Can Enter 'Transitional' Stage

Article Summary
Turkish President Abdullah Gul advised President Bashar al-Assad to implement political reform, "but these recommendations fell on deaf ears," reports Jamil al-Thiaby. Gul said that Turkey will require international support to go any further than defending its borders, and called on Russia to take responsibility for its part in the crisis.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that the Syrian events have proven that the Syrian people's aspiration for radical change will not materialize through peaceful means, adding that his country's foreign policy is not based on arming any group, in a reference to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is fighting the regime forces.

Gul said in an interview with Al-Hayat that Ankara has repeatedly given advice to President Bashar al-Assad regarding the need to implement political reforms, "but these recommendations fell on deaf ears." He stressed that the transitional phase in Syria "will not be easy," adding that it is "important to maintain the Syrian territory's unity, sovereignty, independence and national unity.”

The Turkish president warned that if the Syrian crisis gets worse and "affects our national security, then we will take all necessary precautions," stressing that Turkey cannot make unilateral decisions regarding a buffer or safe zone, which he said requires international consensus. He stressed that "the Syrian people should decide their own fate and establish a road map.”

Gul stressed that "there are well-established relations of friendship, brotherhood and cultural links" between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. He said that the two countries are seeking to establish security and stability in the region.

Gul said he was pleased to receive an invitation from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, to attend the Islamic Solidarity Summit to be held in Mecca. He said the summit's goals are discussing all problems plaguing the Muslim world, eliminating the differences between Islamic countries and deepening cooperation and collaboration among them.

Gul said that Turkey shares a 911km-long border with Syria. "If our national security requires action, then we will do what needs to be done, and we will take all necessary precautions,” he added.

Asked about Turkey's position on arming the FSA, he said that his country's foreign policy is "not based on arming any group" and that it prefers peaceful solutions. "Yet, still, we see that the Syrian people's aspiration for a radical change will not be possible through the usual peaceful means. This has been proven by events," he argued, adding that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, his country has received more than 50,000 Syrian refugees.

Asked by Al-Hayat whether his country is seeking to establish a buffer zone to protect the Syrians, Gul said that decisions about safe and buffer zones cannot be taken unilaterally and need international consensus.

"We hope to quickly achieve a transitional period that would ensure the aspirations of the Syrian people, but if things became more serious, leading to mass migrations that would affect our national security, then we will take all necessary precautions," Gul added.

The Turkish president stressed that there are "a lot of expectations from Russia to reach solutions to ensure stability in Syria," but "we do not see that it is currently playing a positive role in resolving this issue.”

Gul criticized Moscow and Beijing for using the veto power in the Security Council to block resolutions concerning Syria, stating that this has "emboldened the Baath regime in Syria.”

Gul further pointed out that his country is at odds with Moscow in the "interpretation of the causes behind the increased repression and violence. The regime is indiscriminately repressing its people with heavy weapons, planes and helicopters for the mere reason that they are demanding a democratic and transparent life."

"Frankly, there are those who blame the Russians and Chinese for encouraging [the regime] and giving it more time to carry out operations against the people and residential areas in Syria,” he added.

Gul stressed that "the international community must be clear in its message to the Syrian regime to immediately stop the repression and bloodshed. In this regard, Russia must assume a major responsibility.”

Found in: syrian, russian, assad regime, assad

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