Turkey says supports Annan's Syria mission but skeptical of implementation
A Turkish minister said his government supported a peace mission by UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, but complained that the Syrian forces do not seem to be fulfilling their responsibility to cease fire under Annan's plan.
Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, who accompanied Annan on a visit to a refugee camp in Hatay, said the Syrian government's announcement that it will implement the UN-Arab League envoy's plan may be another stalling tactic.
Atalay, speaking at a joint news conference, said the UN Security Council should step in and fulfill its responsibilities if the Syrian regime does not cooperate to implement the peace plan. “We support the plan and want it to succeed. We only voice our concerns about the Syrian government's stance regarding the plan's implementation,” Atalay said, recalling previous promises made but not upheld by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to reform and end violence.
Earlier in the day, Syria's foreign minister accused Turkey of undermining the Annan plan by arming Syrian opposition fighters and helping them cross the border and urged Ankara to express commitment to the plan. “Turkey … supports illegal Syrian militant groups, supplies them with weapons … and lets them illegally cross into Syria,” Waled al-Moallem said at a press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow. “How can we [fulfill the plan] if there are still illegal arm deliveries and the movement of militants from Turkey?”
In Hatay, Annan thanked the Turkish authorities for hosting the Syrian refugees and praised conditions in the refugee camps. He said the continuing inflow showed that the situation in Syria does not get better.
He called on the Syrian government and the opposition forces to end violence by 6 a.m. on Thursday, as envisaged in his plan. Responding to a question on the Turkish stance towards his plan, he said the Turkish government has never questioned the plan itself but whether the Syrian government would implement it or not.
Annan: Plan not implemented according to timetable
Annan said according to information coming in from Syria, operations have ceased in some places while military operations seem to be getting under way in areas that previously were not a target.
He admitted that the plan was not being implemented according to the given timetable, but added that it was too early to say it failed. Therefore, the international community should maintain pressure on Syria, he added.
There is still time between now and April 12 to stop the violence, Annan said, referring to the deadline for cease-fire under his plan. “I appeal to all to stop the violence,” he said.