Turkey did not receive an invitation for Thursday’s European Union meeting on Syria after Greece and Greek Cyprus vetoed Turkish participation, Today’s Zaman has learned.
EU member France announced on Monday that it asked other EU states to invite non-member Turkey to Thursday’s foreign ministerial meeting in Brussels that will discuss the next steps in dealing with Syria. But Greece and Greek Cyprus, two EU members which have long-running disputes with Turkey over the fate of Cyprus, raised objections to Turkish participation, Turkish diplomatic sources said.
Turkish officials earlier said French authorities had contacted them about their proposal and that Ankara was willing to attend if a formal invitation was extended. Turkish officials learned on Wednesday that Ankara was not to be invited due to Greek and Greek Cypriot opposition.
Turkish officials criticized the EU decision as lacking wisdom. “It seems the EU has decided to solve the Syria problem with the help of the region’s strongest country, Greek Cyprus,” head of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission Volkan Bozkır commented, sarcastically. “We are relieved.”
Ömer Çelik, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in charge of foreign relations, said Greek Cyprus represents within the EU a “mentality that is as backward as that of Syria’s Baath Party.”
“Turkey does not need the EU’s ideas on Syria. But Turkey’s opinions are as essential for the EU as oxygen,” Çelik said.
Thursday’s meeting is expected to include a presentation by the secretary general of the Arab League, which on Sunday announced economic sanctions against Syria. “We have proposed that Turkey be invited to the foreign affairs meeting to discuss the situation in Syria. This invitation, which is extremely important in our eyes, is being considered in Brussels,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
France has also proposed that Turkey, which shares an 800-kilometer (500-mile) border with Syria, be used for a secured humanitarian corridor to protect civilians in the eight-month popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. But Turkey said such a measure is not on agenda.
30 November 2011, Wednesday / SERVET YANATMA , ANKARA