Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Embassy Announcement

Press Statement By H.e. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister Of Foreign Affairs Of The Republic Of Turkey On The Recent Developments In Syria, 15 August 2011 , 16.08.2011

Distinguished Members of the Press,

As you know, I paid a visit to Damascus last week and held comprehensive talks with the Syrian authorities on the recent developments in the country in question. When I came back I briefed our domestic as well as international media about my visit.

During the visit, in my meeting with President Assad that lasted 6.5 hours, I had conveyed two very clear demands to him and the Syrian Government: actually, it was a detailed discussion, but the first demand, inter alia, was that the operations would be stopped immediately and, beginning with the city of Hama, the Syrian troops would withdraw from the cities. The second demand was that the legitimate democratic demands of the people would be met. Afterwards, we shared with the public some of the basic points that we agreed upon during our comprehensive talks.

First of all, I want to clarify one thing: Turkey did not give Syria during these talks or thereafter a deadline until which to continue with the operations. We categorically deny the allegations made by some international media in this regard. Both during these meetings and also in the ensuing contacts at every level, we urged Syria to stop these operations immediately. It is out of question for Turkey to give a green light for operations which cause the loss of innocent civilian lives. This has never been the case and never will be. I want this fact to be known as such.

Syria took some steps on the points that we had discussed in the following first two days. As you know, the withdrawal of the tanks from Hama, and the facilitation of our Ambassador to visit, followed by the access granted to the members of the international and Turkish media to Hama constituted these steps. However, instead of being terminated, as of Thursday evening until the present time, we have unfortunately witnessed the intensification and expansion of the operations. Since Thursday night until now, we have been in touch with the Syrian Government at all levels, I underline the word at all levels, reiterating our call and expectation for an immediate stop to these operations. In order for this process to function properly, first and foremost the bloodshed has to be brought to an end. Neither the events in Deir ez-Zour nor the experiences of yesterday and today in Lattakia can be justified. From a human rights point of view, these events cannot in any way be considered as merely an internal affairs matter.

Today we once again want to call on the Syrian authorities to immediately stop the operations against the civilians concentrated in the big cities. The military presence should be withdrawn from the cities and life should return to normal in this sense. If the operations are not terminated, there will be nothing left to talk about regarding the subsequent steps to be taken in this process. We expect and demand that these operations are stopped immediately.

Our message to the Syrian people is as follows: Turkey stands by the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, just as it stood by those of the people of Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. This is a stance that is part of a principled policy. A change in this policy is out of question. We will continue to stand by the legitimate aspirations of the people of the Middle East. I would like them to know once more that Turkey will continue to stand by them in the realization of their legitimate aspirations and urge them to use peaceful means in expressing these aspirations.

Our efforts at the regional level also continue and will continue. We hope that Syria will head our call and that the ongoing operations will be brought to an end without any further delay. We also hope that a process that will meet the aspirations of the Syrian people will be initiated and brought to an advanced stage swiftly. This is our final word. As of now our first and foremost expectation from the Syrian Government is to unconditionally and immediately stop these operations that cause civilian casualties. We deemed it useful to make these views known to our public opinion, as well as to the friendly Syrian people and the international public opinion.

Thank you.