Turkey Live Coverage (12 April): Erdogan "If the UN Does Not Follow on Syria, What Will It Follow Through?"
1820: Speaking at the joint press briefing with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Erdogan said that they see no implemantation of the Annan Plan and no improvement of the situation in Syria. Erdogan said:
The Annan Plan is a six-point plan; not an extended broad plan [to solve the crisis]. In my opinion, it is not being implemented.
However, we are saying from the very beginning that we want an outcome. And for this outcome, the tanks must be withdrawn from cities first and foremost. They say 'we have withdrawn from cities and placed them in rural areas. No, where they belong is crystal clear. They belong to barracks. The administration must give confidence to the people by this action which is not the case now.
From the beginning, what we want is conforming to the people's demands. This can be done by bringing ballot boxes in front of the people. Whoever wins at the elections, the international community will respect that. We, as Turkey, are against any totalitarian, authoritarian and autocratic regimes.
No one can ask why Turkey is talking a lot. Our borders are violated and we have 25,000 refugees along with a 877 km of border with Syria.
1700 GMT: According to Turkey's Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, exportation to Syria has been decreased by 77 percent in March and it is also 56.1 percent less compared to last year's January-March period. It is reported that the number of transportation trucks has been diminished from around 250 to 10-15 a day.
1620 GMT: Minister of Finance Mehmet Simsek said that the southerneastern and eastern parts will become Turkey's China, thanks to the economic stimulus package announced last week. Simsek continued:
Wherever you invest across Turkey, there are strong supports you will have. Tax rates are already set to zero in the sixth region [two regions mentioned above]
1430 GMT: A new military operation has started against around 20 PKK members in the rural area between Siirt and Sirnak provinces. It is reported that Cobra helipcopters are supporting the operation while strategic points were held by Turkish forces.
1400 GMT: Five Syrians claimed to be taking pictures and recording at the Oncupinar border gate of the province of Kilis were taken into custody by Turkish officials.
1355 GMT: Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici commented on the recent 28 February 1997 'post-modern' coup d'état:
There is a cleaning on the democratic ground. In Turkey, people have taken the reins anymore. Rights and freedom are increasing. We all should trust in justice.
1340 GMT: Having Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized NATO's 5th article with regards to border violations, the organisation's spokeswoman Carmen Romero spoke to AFP:
We are deeply concerned by events in Syria, particularly the recent incidents on the border with our ally Turkey. We are monitoring the situation very closely and will continue to do so.
1000 GMT: Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that Ankara is watching closely where the ceasefire in Syria is leading. Davutoglu added that Turkey is with the people of Syria and underlined the concern over Syrian attacks on refugee camps, saying that Turkey's borders are under guarantee of NATO.
0800 GMT: In the district of Uludere of the province of Sirnak, two soldiers were killed and another three were wounded in a clash with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
0755 GMT: A detention warrant was issued on Thursday for retired General Çevik Bir over his alleged role in the unarmed military intervention, often referred to as a “postmodern” coup d'état, of 28 February 1997.
0745 GMT: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered a positive report about links with Beijing on his return from China:
They are in favor of developing economic relations. They have expressed their wish to cooperate in the fields of the bridge over the Bosphorus, the railway network and nuclear energy. We wish that we can provide the Chinese capital to flow into Turkey.
However, when it came to Syria, Erdogan was not as pleased:
This is a matter we have been pursuing since the beginning, and which has gained greater urgency. The number of incoming refugees has multiplied twofold. It has almost reached a boiling point. There is footage. These people get shot while they are running away. There are people dying and getting wounded. There is the cry of the mothers. They told Kofi Annan how their homes were smashed and how their children’s throats were slit.
If the U.N. does not follow this through, then what will it follow through? We will follow it through. Turkey’s sensitivities are self-evident. We ought to lay this bare at the highest levels and follow it through in front of the U.N.’s view. Assent to cruelty amounts to cruelty; you cannot approve this.
They view their people as terrorists. I explained this position to them and told them that they were speaking with Bashar’s attitude and language. Please do not speak with their language. Can a tiny child, a babe, be a terrorist? This contradicts your religious values. You cannot attack or hit upon a defenseless person in our value system. How could you call this a terrorist? These are the people. What are tanks doing on the streets where the people are?
There was a very ugly thing [said] about Turkey being the servant of the West. Al-Assad would like to shift the matter onto a very different plane.
I told this to the [Iranian] religious leader, too. “This war is between Arab nationalists and Islamists” ---look, this is what Bashar is saying. They did not assess this picture. Al-Assad will try to disperse the Arab League by shifting the matter onto a different plane, or so he thinks.
0730 GMT: For the third time this week, Syrian soldiers have allegedly fired on a group of civilians, including women and children, fleeing to Turkey. No casualties were reported.