FM talks to Annan about Russian proposal for int’l Syria conference
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan (L) meet in Ankara on March 12, 2012. (Photo: AA)
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had a phone conversation with international envoy to Syria Kofi Annan about Syria, discussing a Russian proposal for a broader international meeting on the Syrian crisis to include Iran and Turkey, with the aim of supporting a faltering peace plan brokered by Annan. Annan called Davutoğlu on Monday to discuss the recent developments over the Syrian crisis. Annan had also briefed Davutoğlu on his recent talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his presentation at the UN Security Council last Thursday.
Turkey approaches Russia's proposal cautiously, understanding it as a maneuver from the country not to remain excluded from international initiatives and to prove to the international community that it is making efforts for the resolution of the Syrian crisis. Officials from the Russian Embassy in Ankara visited the Turkish Foreign Ministry last week to inform Turkish diplomats on the aim and scope of the proposed conference, sources from the Foreign Ministry claimed.
Meanwhile, countries in the Friends of Syria group, an international platform to back Syrian opposition, agreed during an international meeting in İstanbul to gather in July in France to assess the violence. The group brings together around 60 countries, including Turkey, the US and countries from the EU and Arab League, to discuss the efforts for peace and democracy in Syria.
Clinton has also thrown cold water on Russia’s proposal on the grounds that it includes Iran, which she deems the “stage-manager” of the Syrian conflict, during her visit to Azerbaijan last week. Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has claimed in an official statement on Monday that Iran’s absence would be far from productive for an international effort on Syria.
According to the statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will make an official visit to Iran on Wednesday.
Amid ongoing diplomatic traffic, the strong international reaction to the brutality in Syria also continues. Philip Missfelder, the parliamentary foreign policy spokesman for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), claimed that military intervention in Syria has to be taken into account as diplomacy is not enough to solve the violence. Missfelder is at loggerheads with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is opposed to such an intervention in Syria.
Abdulbaset Sieda, the new chairman of the Syrian National Council (SNC), made a call on international heavyweights Russia and China to join the efforts of the international community on Sunday to end Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Holding a press conference in İstanbul on Sunday, Sieda stated that the SNC appreciated Annan’s efforts and underlined the importance of continuing international pressure to end the Assad regime.
Sieda called on the Syrian and Chinese governments to join the international community’s efforts, and asked the Iranian administration to respect the Syrian people’s will. He maintained that the Assad administration had lost sovereignty across the country due to its oppressive policy over the past year, claiming that it has no other choice than to abide by international decisions.
Blocking the efforts in the UN Security Council to call on Assad to step down, Russia and China are hesitant to accept that the killings are being committed by the Syrian president. Meanwhile, Iran is concentrating on the efforts to oust Assad, giving military support to the regime, using Iraq as a transit route.
135 refugees cross into Turkey amid unabated Syrian violence
A total of 135 Syrian refugees passed into Turkey on Sunday, fleeing from the ongoing violence in their country.
The group included officers, their families and three injured people, the Anatolia news agency reported. Fleeing officers among the group will be sent to camps in the southern province of Hatay and the rest to Şanlıurfa camps in the Southeast.
Turkey currently has nine refugee camps in its four provinces, including Hatay, Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep and Kilis. Among them, seven are in Hatay and one in Şanlıurfa. The province of Hatay mostly shelters army defectors who joined the ranks of opposition fighters Free Syrian Army (FSA).
A truce deal that was brokered between the regime and the opposition by joint UN-Arab League envoy Annan has been proven to be shakier as full-fledged violence continues in Syria. On Monday, opposition groups declared that around 69 Syrians were killed in Homs, Idlib, Latakia, Damascus and Aleppo in army shelling with heavy weapons on Monday. The clashes were concentrated mostly in the northern provinces close to the Turkish and Lebanese borders with Syria, but recently there were also army attacks against opposition activists in Damascus and its suburbs.