Speaking during his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Erdoğan continued his severe criticisms of the Syrian administration. “We had a friendship that began nine years ago but Syria failed to appreciate this. They [Syrian rulers] did not pay heed to our warnings. … But we cannot remain silent in the face of this process. We will continue to display the necessary stance. I believe that the Syrian people will be successful in their glorious resistance,” he said.
Turkey, once a close ally of the Syrian president, has gradually toughened its criticism of the Syrian regime for its brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests. Last month, Erdoğan slammed Assad, suggesting that Syria would be the next country on the Arab Spring list and that Assad would eventually be ousted by his own people.
“Those who repress their own people in Syria will not survive. The time of autocracies is over. Totalitarian regimes are disappearing. The rule of the people is coming,” Erdoğan also said in September in Libya while addressing the Libyan people.
Assad has shrugged off broad international condemnation and calls for him to step down, insisting that armed gangs and thugs are behind the violence, not true reform-seekers.
The Turkish prime minister has reiterated on many occasions that what happens in Syria is an “internal affair” for Turkey, not an issue of foreign policy, given the 850-kilometer-long border between the two countries and deep cultural and historical ties.
On Tuesday Erdoğan also voiced his belief that the Syrians who have been killed by pro-Assad forces are martyrs.
“The killing of one person is like the killing of all humanity, but unfortunately there is an administration [in Syria] that massacres and kills people, making them martyrs. This is an administration that relies on force. This is not an administration which depends on the nation’s will,” he said.
At the same meeting, the prime minister also praised Turkey for showing an example of solidarity for the entire world to see in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that hit eastern province of Van on Oct. 23, killing more than 600 people.
He said all 80 provinces of Turkey mobilized to extend a helping hand to the quake victims. Erdoğan added: “We have mobilized all our means for the construction of temporary shelters and permanent accommodation. We are healing the wounds very rapidly. With its population of 74 million, Turkey displayed a solidarity [for Van] which sets as an example to the world.” Erdoğan also focused on a letter Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu sent him recently regarding an alleged corruption case in Kayseri.
In late 2010 Kılıçdaroğlu alleged that the Kayseri Municipality, the Kayseri Governor’s Office and the Kayseri Police Department were all involved in corruption. In a speech made in Parliament during which he criticized the government’s management of the economy and the 2011 budget, Kılıçdaroğlu produced a file concerning allegations of corruption in Kayseri province going back to 2007.
Kayseri Mayor Mehmet Özhaseki is from the AK Party.
Erdoğan said Kılıçdaroğlu has so far failed to back up his allegations regarding the alleged corruption case in Kayseri and that he tries to defame the government by bringing the issue back to the agenda over and over again. The prime minister said he would write a detailed response to the CHP leader.