President Abdullah Gül has claimed that the peace plan set out by international envoy Kofi Annan is the last opportunity for the Syrian regime, which should use it wisely. Receiving Abdurrazag Mukhtar, Libya’s ambassador to Turkey in Ankara at the Çankaya presidential palace on Friday, Gül explained the issues relating to Syria to reporters.
When asked about comments that have appeared in international media suggesting military intervention as a solution to the Syrian crisis, Gül stated that “in the face of such a big crisis many scenarios are possible, and everyone should try to prepare themselves for the worst. But most importantly, the success of the process already under way is the best option for everyone concerned. This process should be seen as the best opportunity. It is a great opportunity for Syria and for those who govern Syria, and may be the last one,” Gül asserted.
Gül declined to comment on suggestions of establishing a buffer zone in Syria in the face of a potential exodus of refugees from Syria as well as rising tensions along the Turkish border following attacks on Syrians fleeing to Turkey.
In remarks from İstanbul on Friday Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Turkey has started to accept international assistance to meet the needs of Syrian refugees.
“So far we have provided all the aid [to Syrian refugees] that we can as a nation. Considering the existing problems and a potential increase in the number of refugees, I have talked to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. We have started to accept international aid [to meet the needs of refugees],” Davutoğlu noted during a joint press appearance with his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.
Turkey is now hosting more than 25,000 refugees in refugee camps in Hatay, Gaziantep and Şanlurfa provinces.
The Syrian regime’s forces started attacking Turkish refugee camps near Turkey’s Syrian border last week, opening fire on fleeing Syrians. Monday’s attacks killed three Syrians in a camp next to the Öncüpınar border gate in Kilis province.
In a statement that may be interpreted as the harshest response yet to the escalating 13-month-old Syrian crisis, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time on Wednesday during an official visit to China raised the possibility of calling on the NATO military alliance to protect Turkey’s border against incursions by Syrian forces.
“NATO has a responsibility to protect Turkish borders,” said Erdoğan, signaling that Turkey may officially ask NATO members to apply Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all, if the situation in Syria becomes a serious enough threat to Turkish national security.