9 October 2012
The boiling tension along the Turkish-Syrian border is a “realization of the worst scenario,” President Abdullah Gül warned yesterday while expressing hopes that transition will occur sooner rather than later in the Arab republic.
“The worst-case scenario is happening in Syria at the moment. Syrian people are suffering and the developments there affect Turkey. We have citizens who have lost their lives,” Gül told reporters, referring to the killing of five Turks in the border district of Akçakale last week as a result of Syrian shelling. Ties between Ankara and Damascus, which have been tense since the March 2011 start of Syria’s crisis, worsened sharply after the incident.
“In such a moment, we are always in consultations with our government and chief of General Staff. Whatever necessary is being done, as you know. And it will continue to be done,” Gül said.
Gül also said the situation in Syria could not continue in the present way. “Sooner or later, a [political] transition will occur [in Syria]. But our wish is the realization [of this transition] before more blood is shed and before Syria is ruined. I am of the opinion that the international community should actively be involved.”
The comments were Gül’s first since the Akçakale deaths and Parliament’s subsequent decision to authorize the military to conduct cross-border operations in Syria in the event of an attack against Turkey and its people.
Syria, meanwhile, accused Turkey yesterday of having made a “political and diplomatic gaffe” with its suggestion that Vice President Faruq al-Shara take over from the country’s embattled president, Bashar al-Assad.
“What [Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoðlu said amounts to a flagrant political and diplomatic gaffe,” Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi was quoted as saying by state television.
“We’re not in the days of the Ottoman Empire anymore. I advise the Turkish government to give up [power] in favor of personalities who are acceptable to the Turkish people,” he said.
Davutoðlu said Oct. 6 that al-Shara was “a man of reason and conscience and he has not taken part in the massacres in Syria. Nobody knows the [Syrian] system better than he.” The Syrian opposition, which Turkey supports, “is inclined to accept al-Shara” in place of al-Assad, he said.