Monday, August 27, 2012

Turkey to keep its door open to Syrians, call UN for action

Despite the recent exodus from Syria, Turkey declares that it will not close its borders to fleeing Syrians. ‘100,000 is important as a symbolic figure. But this does not mean that Turkey would not accept the 100,001st refugee,’ FM Davutoğlu says.

Turkey has said it will not close its borders to fleeing Syrians, even if their numbers exceed the 100,000 limit it had earlier introduced. However, it also underlined that it would call on the United Nations to take more comprehensive measures to deal with the growing number of migrants if the numbers continue to rise.

“100,000 is important as a symbolic figure. But this does not mean that Turkey would not accept the 100,001st refugee [fleeing Syria],” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters over the weekend.

Turkey is currently home to nearly 80,000 Syrians who have fled violence since March 2011. Turkish officials have been increasingly voicing the need to set up security zones inside Syrian territory to prevent more refugees from crossing the border, a proposal which requires a U.N. Security Council resolution. The U.N. Security Council will hold a ministerial level meeting on Aug. 31 in New York with the participation of Syria’s neighbors, including Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. “The issue of refugees will be discussed at the U.N. Security Council on Aug. 31. We will find the opportunity to bring the issue to the table in detail,” Davutoğlu said.

Call to the UN 

“Turkey has always been on the side of our Syrian brothers with all of its capacities. But leaving alone Turkey, Jordan and other neighboring countries in shouldering this responsibility [of refugees] is not right. The U.N. [exists] for such days,” he said.

Davutoğlu, who will represent Turkey at the meeting, said he would make a call to the U.N. to take more comprehensive measures in dealing with issue. “We will also discuss measures to be taken in the event of an increasing refugee influx.” Turkey and the United States concluded what they call a “first operational planning meeting” last week, in which potential contingency plans such as establishing security zones and no-fly zones were addressed.

The two allies reviewed their capabilities in establishing such zones, where Syrians would be able to receive humanitarian relief, although Washington did not endorse Davutoğlu’s formulation of 100,000 refugees as the limit.

The MGK will assess the situation

However, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos is opposed to such ideas. Despite the increasingly precarious humanitarian situation, U.N. Security Council divisions would prevent the creation of any safe havens in Syria, she said last week. In the aftermath of the Turkish-American operational meeting, the Turkish government will review the Syrian problem this week in depth, ahead of the critical meeting at the U.N. The National Security Council (MGK) will further elaborate the developments inside Syria and their effects on Turkey, as well as its terror dimensions, in its bi-monthly meeting tomorrow.

The link between the escalation in terrorist attacks in Turkey and developments in Syria is also expected to be examined by the top civilian and military officials. A day before the MGK meeting, the Cabinet is also expected to be convened under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.