Davutoğlu: Syrian regime must leave as soon as possible

February 04, 2013, Monday/ 16:17:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu repeated on Monday a call for the departure of the Syrian regime, saying this is the only way to end the country's 22-month-old conflict.

“This brutal dictatorship must leave the scene as early as possible to open up the way for democratic transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” Davutoğlu said in an address to a ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo. “This is the only way to prevent the ongoing violence and to bring security and stability to the country and the region.”

Davutoğlu's remarks came after Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib said on Wednesday that he is willing to talk to the regime if it will help end bloodshed, raising prospects for a negotiated settlement. Russia, Bashar al-Assad's most important international ally, has said the insistence on his ouster before political talks can begin was counterproductive.

In Cairo, Davutoğlu called for international support for the opposition, saying the Syrian National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces led by al-Khatib was the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

“Since the end of the regime is near and inevitable, we should focus on the transition,” he said. “The Syrian National Coalition, as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people, has made considerable progress in presenting itself as a credible alternative to the Assad regime. It is now time for us to fulfill our obligations by supporting and empowering the opposition.”

Speaking ahead of a summit of OIC leaders, Davutoğlu also sought support from member states for Turkey's bids to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council again in 2015-16 and to host EXPO 2020 in İzmir. Turkey was last a non-permanent member of the 15-nation body in 2009-10.

“We are relying on the full support of all our brothers here. What we accomplished and stood for during our Security Council membership in 2009-2010 is a testament to what we can contribute in 2015-2016. Turkey will certainly provide a strong voice for the OIC member states within the council, including the issues of Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” he said.

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