Turkey will soon announce a roadmap for sanctions to be imposed on neighboring Syria, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday. Speaking at a press conference during a visit to South Africa, Erdoğan said detailed plans on sanctions will be announced after a planned visit to the refugee camps in southern Turkey for Syrians who fled a brutal government crackdown. “But we already have started to implement some of them [sanctions] because they could not wait,” he said.
Erdoğan, once a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been vocal in criticizing the government crackdown on anti-regime protests. “We cannot remain a bystander of developments in Syria any longer. Oppressed, defenseless people are dying in serious numbers. We cannot say ‘let these deaths continue’,” Erdoğan said at the news conference, and added that the actions of the Syrian security forces are unacceptable. “We had a good friendship with Mr. Assad but we have to make sure our friendship is based on principles.
If these principles are trampled upon, then we will leave those friends behind,” he said. Erdoğan likened the Syrian crackdown on protesters to a 1982 massacre by Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, in the city of Hama, and complained that the Syrian people have been suffering under an emergency rule that has been in place for four decades now. “The president, who says he has lifted emergency rule, keeps bombing the city of Latakia from the sea. These are things we never expected to see happening,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish prime minister also reiterated criticism of the current structure of the UN Security Council, where each of the five permanent members has the right to block any decision of the 15-member body. He particularly complained that resolutions passed against some countries at the UN Security Council or the General Assembly are implemented while some others that target other countries, such as Israel, are not implemented.
Four European countries — France, Britain, Germany and Portugal — were forced to abandon a recent attempt to use the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Syria, following opposition from Russia, China and South Africa. The four are now working on a watered-down resolution to threaten Syria with sanctions if its regime does not change its approach. Turkey’s military will conduct an exercise in the southern province of Hatay, where more than 7,000 Syrians have taken refuge from Syrian President Assad’s security forces.
The Oct. 5-13 “mobilization” exercise, announced on the military’s website on Tuesday, may coincide with a visit that Prime Minister Erdoğan is expected to make to refugee camps in Hatay after he returns from South Africa this week. The army said the exercise would involve the 39th mechanized infantry brigade and 730 reserve soldiers.
04 October 2011, Tuesday / ERDAL ŞEN, PRETORIA