Turkish President Gul has said that the Russian proposal that Syria hands over its chemical weapons is a significant development. He added, however, that the Syrian crisis in not only about removing chemical weapons.
“We already knew that there was a great amount of chemical weapons in one of our neighbouring countries. So cleansing Syria of chemical weapons is a significant development. One should be grateful for this. But this should not become a tactic; it should be a real cleansing. The second dimension to this is that the issue is not solely about chemical weapons,” Gul told reporters on 11th September, following the International Financial Systems Forum in Istanbul.
The Syrian foreign minister said 10th September that his government was ready to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile in line with the proposal, in order “to thwart U.S. aggression.”
However, President Gul called on the U.S. authorities to not view the situation only in terms of chemical weaponry but to remember that the Syrian civil war, has claimed over 100,000 lives, so far.
“There is a country here where over 100,000 people have been killed, where a cruel civil war reigns, where people’s cities are destroyed. This must be stopped. There has to be a political strategy as a way out. Otherwise, no one can accept things going as they are,” he said, adding that the overturning of the chemical weapons did not dismiss the need for a real solution in the war-stricken country.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Levent Gumrukcu said that Turkey welcomes the proposal that would allow Syria to surrender chemical weapons to the control of the international community, but that would not absolve Syria of its responsibility for past incidents where chemical weapons were used,
“Any new process should not abolish obligation of accountability [for using chemical agents by the Syrian regime] anyway,” Gumrukcu said at a press conference on Sept.11.
The use of chemical weapons is just one part of the crisis in Syria, but not the sole element, he added, citing that due to the Syrian regime’s “violence” more than 100,000 people had been killed and more than 2 million displaced.
The international community should understand that all these elements are threats against international and regional peace and security, and develop a strategy accordingly, he added.
“Turkey’s expectation is that the U.N. should respond to its responsibility on Syria with integrity. This is Turkey’s priority. However, heading for tactical steps and falling into a trap, rather than taking steps that would pursue essence of Syrian crisis in order to produce a solution, will be misleading steps,” he said.
Turkish foreign ministry officials have recently had diplomatic contacts with U.S., French and Russian officials regarding Turkey’s views about recent proposal for surrendering Syria’s chemical weapons to the international community’s oversight. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has yet to hold a phone conversation with his colleagues regarding the proposal, Gumrukcu said.
Turkey is currently host to 460,000 Syrian refugees.