Davutoğlu slams EU decision not to invite Turkey to Syria meeting

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu harshly criticized the European Union on Thursday for its decision not to invite Turkey for talks on Syria, saying the 27-nation bloc bowed to pressure from a “capricious” small country.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton leaves a news conference at the end of a EU Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels December 1, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton leaves a news conference at the end of a EU Foreign Ministers Meeting in Brussels December 1, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

EU heavyweight France announced on Monday that it asked its EU partners to invite non-member Turkey to a foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels on Syria on Thursday, apparently acknowledging Turkey’s active involvement in the formation of a united stance against the Syrian regime at global level. But the Turkish participation was blocked when Greek Cyprus raised objections, according to Turkish officials.

“The EU bowed to the whim of a small country. I don’t know if I might be able to join if I am invited to a new meeting on Syria because I have a busy schedule,” Davutoğlu told journalists accompanying him on a visit to Germany. In addition to France, Germany and the United Kingdom also supported the Turkish participation in the meeting, Davutoğlu said.

The foreign minister also recounted that he had a phone conversation with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, who, he said, sounded “apologetically” over the diplomatic setback. Davutoğlu told the German minister that Turkey had not requested to attend the meeting on Syria and that it was ready to join because the three main countries of the EU had asked for its participation.

The EU ministers agreed in their talks in Brussels to impose new sanctions on Syrian individuals and businesses in the hope of pressuring the Syrian regime to halt its deadly crackdown on anti-government protests. The new sanctions target 12 people and 11 companies, and add to the list of those previously sanctioned by the EU.

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby also attended the meeting in Brussels.

Davutoğlu declined to comment on an attack on Wednesday in İstanbul’s Ottoman-era Topkapı Palace, which is rumored to be linked to Turkey’s harsh criticism of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The assailant, a Libyan national who arrived at the scene in a car with Syrian license plates, according to Turkish authorities, wounded a soldier and a private security guard before running into the Topkapı Palace complex, where he was killed by the police in a clash. There was no statement on motive of the assailant.

Davutoğlu said he did not want to comment because an investigation is still ongoing. “Some are talking about a plot but we should wait for the investigation to be completed,” he said. “Things may not be what they seem. The Security and intelligence dimensions of the incident should be investigated. We should avoid unnecessary generalizations.”

The foreign minister also dismissed media reports that some 600 Libyans have crossed into Syria to fight against Syrian regime, saying this is “out of the question.” He also refused to comment on reports that a group of Turkish members of the Taliban were attacked by US predators in Afghanistan, saying that “there is no such thing on our agenda.”



02 December 2011, Friday / BÜLENT KENEŞ, HAMBURG