Turkey plans new Syria initiative after UN 'fiasco'
Ankara, February 7, 2012
Turkey is preparing a new initiative with those countries who oppose the Syrian government, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, describing a veto by China and Russia of a UN resolution on Syria a "fiasco".
"We are going to start a new initiative with those countries that stand by the people, not the Syrian government. We are preparing this," Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, giving no further details on the initiative.
"The process that occurred at the United Nations in relation to Syria is a fiasco for the civilised world," he said.
On Saturday, China and Russia vetoed an Arab-backed UN resolution on Syria, the only members of the 15-member UN Security Council to vote against it, prompting widespread condemnation from Western and Arab nations.
Without naming any particular country, Erdogan said the vetoes gave a "green light" to the Syrian government to continue its crackdown on anti-government protesters.
"The UN Security Council has once again held captive the conscience of the international community. Possessing the power to veto is a great responsibility. Using this power gives a green light for the persecution to continue," Erdogan said.
He did not elaborate on what the new initiative on Syria would entail or with what countries Turkey was preparing to act.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was expected to travel to the United States on Wednesday for talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton said on Sunday the United States would work with other nations to try to tighten sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and deny it arms in the absence of a UN resolution.
Once a staunch ally of Assad, Turkey has now strongly condemned his government's bloody crackdown on a popular uprising and has called for the Syrian leader to step down.
Turkey also hosts opposition members from the Syrian National Council and has given refuge to Syrian army defectors. Thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing violence at home have also taken shelter inside Turkey.
On Tuesday, Syrian forces renewed their bombardment of Homs as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Damascus for talks aimed at pressing Assad to end the violence and carry out reforms.
The UN says at least 5,000 people have been killed since anti-government protests began in March. The government says it is fighting foreign-backed Islamist "terrorists" who have killed 2,000 soldiers and police. – Reuters