Tuesday, August 14, 2012

French foreign minister to visit Syrian refugees in Turkey

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will arrive in Turkey later this week to visit a Syrian refugee camp in southeastern Anatolia and for talks with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu, on the situation in Syria, as part of a tour of the region that comes in the wake of comments from former French President Nicolas Sarkozy accusing François Hollande's government of leading a passive Syria policy.

Fabius -- one of the most senior officials in Hollande's socialist government, formed in early May -- will be traveling to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey from Aug. 15-17 to discuss the Syrian crisis. All three nations host large numbers of Syrian refugees.

During this regional trip, he will express France's support for refugees who have escaped the escalating violence in Syria. He will meet with officials in the three countries to renew France's support for their efforts in welcoming refugees. The foreign minister will also visit two refugee camps, and hold high-level discussions as part of France's efforts to promote a swift and credible political transition in Syria.

Paying his first visit to Turkey on Friday, Fabius will visit Syrian refugees hosted at refugee camps in the province of Kilis before he meets Davutoğlu in Ankara to discuss Syria.

Davutoğlu last met with Fabius during his visit to Paris on July 5.

During their meeting in Ankara, in line with the Syrian crisis, the sides will also discuss bilateral relations, which have been slated to improve since socialist Hollande won the French presidency in early May.

Former French leader Sarkozy not only opposed Turkey's EU bid, but also played a central role in driving the Armenian “genocide” bill that came about during his term in office. Turkey suspended military, economic and political ties with the nation when the French parliament passed the bill, making it a crime to deny that the 1915 killings of Armenians constitute genocide.

Fabius's regional visit comes after Hollande's government was accused by the right-wing opposition of a lack of action over Syria last week.

Breaking his silence in the past few days, Sarkozy has accused Hollande, who won the French presidential elections against him, of being passive over the resolution of the Syrian crisis. France took a front seat in the military intervention in Libya, and Fabius's visit to the Middle East is of great importance in demonstrating France's commitment to finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Turkey, UK, US, France, Germany FMs hold teleconference on Syria

The foreign ministers of Turkey, the UK, the US, France and Germany held a teleconference on Syria late on Monday, on the initiative of the UK. The ministers discussed developments in Syria since the resignation of Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, according to Anatolia news agency. At the meeting, one of the main issues of debate was steps towards resolution to be taken when France and then Germany assumes the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council.

14 August 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN, ISTANBUL