Davutoğlu says war a risk worth taking for Syria safe zones

Davutoğlu says war a risk worth taking for Syria safe zones

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu speaks during a press conference on Aug. 8, 2012. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

September 28, 2012, Friday/ 14:50:00

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, taking part in meetings on the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, called for the establishment of a safe zone in Syria despite the possibility that it could trigger a war, saying failure to take decisive measures now will lead to more risks in the future.

"If you don't take certain measures or certain steps on time, in the future you will be facing more risks. Unfortunately, since there was no clear message and decisive position of the international community at the early stages of the crisis, the Syrian regime felt confident enough to continue attacks,” said Davutoğlu.

Setting up a safe haven is one of the most debated issues among Turkish government officials. Turkish officials say the influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrians into Turkey would be the precondition for Turkey to establish a safe zone; similar to the buffer zone it established two decades ago to contain the mass migration of Kurdish Peshmerga from Iraq.

Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, Davutoğlu said that the establishment of a zone would also send a signal to the Syrian regime to stop its attacks against civilians. He added that risk was worth taking to get humanitarian aid to the huge numbers of displaced people inside Syria.

Late on Friday, Davutoğlu denied he called for the establishment of the safe zone in Syria despite the possibility that it could trigger a war.

Davutoğlu told state-run Anatolia news agency that he didn’t say going to war is a risk worth taking.

‘Conflict in Syria a huge security threat to Turkey'

Davutoğlu stated that the conflict in Syria, which has created a power vacuum on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, is a huge security threat to Turkey, warning some terrorist groups may benefit from the power vacuum.

“It is a huge security threat. Why? Because we have a 911 kilometer-long border, and now there is a power vacuum on this border,” said the foreign minister in a report by the Anatolian Agency.

Speaking to US television channel PBS on Thursday, Davutoğlu said that some terrorist groups, including the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and al-Qaeda, may try to use the power vacuum or the security issue for their own interests in order to create instability.

Davutoğlu emphasized in July that Ankara would not allow terrorist groups like the PKK or al-Qaeda to establish a presence in war-torn Syria near the Turkish border.

“Even today, several terrorist activities inside Turkey are using this power vacuum. These terrorist groups are using this type of power vacuum for their own interests," said Davutoğlu.

Davutoğlu warned that Turkey has the right to take any step in case of a terror threat or a risk against Turkey from Syrian border.

Turkey is alarmed by the Kurdish control of five Syrian cities near the Turkish border by a military group linked to the pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- a PKK branch based in northern Syria – which has been controlling the predominantly Kurdish cities after the Syrian army withdrew from the region to concentrate on the fight against insurgents in more central cities such as Aleppo and Damascus.

Replying to Margaret Warner's questions on the live PBS program, Davutoğlu said that Turkey was quite frustrated with the United Nations for several reasons.

“Now, we have around 90,000 Syrian refugees in our camps and around 40,000 refugees in several cities. It's a humanitarian tragedy. In fact, it is a test for the UN now, and it is a test for all of the international community,” said Davutoğlu.

‘Syria test a huge failure to UN'

Criticizing the UN Security Council, particularly the P5 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council] due to its failure to agree on any resolution regarding the Syrian crisis, Davutoğlu said so far the Syria test has been a huge failure.

“Forget the political aspect. Even on humanitarian ground, that's quite a frustration for Turkey and other neighboring countries that are paying the price" said Davutoğlu.

The UN is facing criticism over its effectiveness and credibility as the massacre in Syria continues. “Human life cannot be a matter of negotiation between the five permanent members of the Security Council,” said Davutoğlu recently.

Davutoğlu refrained from answering a question about who is to blame for the inaction of the Security Council, saying it was known how Security Council failed until now in the last 18 months to produce any resolution. Mentioning China and Russia, Davutoğlu said that both countries have blocked three resolutions in the past.

"Of course United States and other P5 countries should be more decisive, having one voice and a clear message. Even if the UN Security Council is not able to find a consensus, there are other things to be done as an international community," said Davutoğlu.

Regarding a question on what the international community should do in terms of the humanitarian crisis, Davutoğlu replied that a clear signal and a very decisive message should be sent to the Syrian regime that their policy is not acceptable and there would be certain measures if they continue.” Until now, there is not such a clear message from United Nations that Syrian regime must stop this atrocity against civilians. At least this is a must," added Davutoğlu.

Reminding UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's apology to the Bosnians due to UN's inaction during the Bosnian crisis, Davutoğlu said that he was afraid that maybe after some years another UN secretary general may have to go to Syria for apology due to UN's inaction.

Davutoğlu stated that it was Turkey's responsibility as a neighbor to help Syrians fleeing to Turkey. “What we have paid out now is $300 million, which is a huge amount. And this cost is increasing every day. We are not complaining about this. This is our ethical and human responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Syria,” said Davutoğlu.

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