Erdoğan vows ‘response’ to Syria after attack on Turkish flag

Erdoğan vows ‘response’ to Syria after attack on Turkish flag

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses lawmakers of his AK Party in Parliament on Tuesday. (Photo: AA)

November 15, 2011, Tuesday/ 13:40:00

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled that an apology from the Syrian government for attacks on its diplomatic missions in Syria is not enough, urging President Bashar al-Assad's regime to find and punish the perpetrators of an attack on the Turkish flag in Latakia and vowing that such assaults will receive the proper “response."

Addressing the Syrian president by his first name, Erdoğan said: “Bashar, you who have thousands of people in jail, must find those who attacked the Turkish flag and punish them."

Turkey evacuated the families of diplomats after Saturday's attacks on its embassy in Damascus and its consulates in the cities of Aleppo and Latakia, where assailants burned a Turkish flag. Assad supporters tried to break into Turkish missions to denounce an Arab League decision to suspend Syria's membership over its crackdown on the eight-month uprising. Turkey is not a member of the league, but welcomed the decision.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, speaking at a news conference on Monday, apologized for the attacks on foreign diplomatic missions. The diplomatic missions of Saudi Arabia and France were also attacked following the Arab League's decision.

“I want to make this clear to the Assad regime: Throughout history, those who have tried to touch the Turkish flag were given their response. They will receive a response in the future as well,” Erdoğan said, during a parliamentary group meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party). “Once again, we strongly condemn these attacks. We want the Syrian regime not only to apologize, but also to find the culprits.” 

However, the Turkish prime minister, once a close ally of Assad, reiterated his criticism of the Syrian government's brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests and promised that Turkey will continue to support the Syrian nation. “Those who fire on their own people will go down in history as leaders who feed on blood,” Erdoğan said.

Addressing Assad, he continued: “You are on the same path."

"Nobody now expects the (Syrian) people's demands to be met. We all want the Syrian administration, which is now on a knife-edge, to turn back from the edge of the cliff," Erdoğan also said.

Gül warns of ‘different reaction'

President Abdullah Gül also condemned attacks on Turkish diplomatic missions on Tuesday, calling it “unacceptable” and warning the Syrian regime against unspecified measures if it happens again.

“If Syrian authorities do not take the necessary measures, if these attacks are repeated, then our reaction will certainly be a different one,” Gül said at a joint news conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Pal Schmitt, in Ankara.