Erdogan slams Security Council naysayers on Syria
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated his criticism of the UN Security Council for failing to act on Syria, saying its silence amounts to "indirect backing for the oppressor", Today's Zaman reported.
Security Council members Russia and China vetoed in February a resolution calling for the Syrian president to step down, causing protests from other nations that call for Bashar al-Assad's departure to end a year of violence that the UN says has killed 9,000 people.
"The UN Security Council has given indirect support to the oppressor. Waiting idly while the people of Syria keep dying every day amounts to supporting oppression," Erdoğan said at a weekly meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Parliament.
Russia and China, as well as Assad's regional ally Iran, have remained supportive of Assad, rejecting calls for his ouster because they could result in a military intervention in Syria. But Russia has strongly supported a peace plan drafted by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, which calls on Assad to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas. The plan also envisions a cease-fire by opposition fighters to pave the way for talks by Syrian parties on a political solution and does not call on Assad to leave power.
On Monday, Annan told the UN Security Council that Syria has pledged to withdraw all military units from towns by April 10 to pave the way for a full cease-fire with the opposition fighters two days later.
Erdoğan had earlier criticized the Annan plan for not calling for Assad's ouster, saying "any plan that puts the oppressor and the oppressed in the same category will only prolong violence." On Tuesday, Erdoğan further said the world no longer trusts Assad and emphasized that believing in Assad's promises will give him "more time for massacres."
Erdoğan's remarks came days after a meeting of an international coalition that calls itself the Friends of the Syrian People in İstanbul on Sunday. The group agreed to provide the Syrian opposition with non-lethal aid.
Erdoğan said Turkey, which currently hosts nearly 20,000 Syrian fleeing violence, will "not abandon the people of Syria." He also said his government was working intensively to secure the release of two Turkish journalists missing in Syria since last month.
The Turkish premier also defended Iran's right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and criticized Western pressure on Tehran to stop its nuclear enrichment program.
"It is not appropriate that those who turn a blind eye to Israel acquiring nuclear weapons oppose nuclear research for peaceful purposes," Erdoğan said. "This is discrimination."
Erdoğan's remarks came ahead of the second round of talks between Iran and major world powers in İstanbul on April 13. The prime minister discussed Iran's nuclear program with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a visit to Tehran last week.