Davutoğlu, UN envoy Annan discuss Syria amid shaky truce
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan (L) meet in Ankara March 12 after his weekend talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo: Reuters)
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has spoken by phone with international Syria envoy Kofi Annan to discuss the latest situation in conflict-torn Syria, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday.
Davutoğlu expressed Turkey’s concerns over the Syrian regime’s ongoing offensive against civilians, despite the presence of a UN observer mission that was deployed in the country in late April to monitor implementation of an April 12 ceasefire.
The UN Security Council approved a resolution on April 22 for the deployment of a 300-person observer mission in Syria. The mission will remain in the country for an initial period of 90 days.
The observer mission is in the country to monitor the shaky truce between regime forces and the opposition, envisaged in Annan’s six-point peace plan. However, the shelling by army forces of the restive towns of Hama, Homs, Idlib and Deir ez-Zor still continues. Nineteen Syrians lost their lives during conflicts on Thursday. Turkish government officials support the Annan plan but are highly skeptical that the Assad regime will fully comply. The UN secretary-general has also accused Assad of failing to honor the cease-fire, looking to the increased violence that has claimed many lives.
“We support the plan and want it to succeed. We are only voicing our concerns about the Syrian government’s stance regarding the plan’s implementation,” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said in April during a joint press appearance with Annan in the province of Hatay. He noted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had previously made promises to make reforms and end the violence, but those promises have not been upheld.
Annan, during the same appearance, acknowledged that the plan was not being implemented according to the given timetable and added that the international community should maintain pressure on Syria.
Also, President Abdullah Gül has claimed that Annan’s peace plan is the last opportunity for the Syrian regime, which should use it wisely.
Gül stated: “In the face of such a big crisis, many scenarios are possible, and everyone should try to prepare themselves for the worst. But most importantly, the success of the process already under way is the best option for everyone concerned. This process should be seen as the best opportunity. It is a great opportunity for Syria and for those who govern Syria, and may be the last one.”
The Syrian conflict is a big concern for Turkey, which fears an influx of refugees due to the security situation in its southern neighbor. Turkey is currently housing more than 25,000 Syrian refugees who have fled from the violence to Turkey in its southern provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa.