Press statement by H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, Regarding Measures Adopted vis-à-vis the Syrian Administration

Vaşington Büyükelçiliği 01.12.2011

30 November 2011


Press statement by H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu,

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey,

Regarding Measures Adopted  vis-à-vis the Syrian Administration


(Unofficial Translation)




Distinguished Members of Press,


You are all following closely the developments in Syria. Thus, you are also closely acquainted with the reasons that bring us together today.


We are in the middle of a process of change that began in Tunisia about a year ago and that had repercussions in the entire region.


As a result of this movement launched by peoples with their own will, a social impetus toward prosperity, freedom and democracy has now been formed in the countries of the region.


In this direction, in Tunisia, where the first spark ignited, very successful elections were held a few days ago and the process of formation of a democratic government has begun.


Libya went through a more painful period. However, we are gratified to see that a very healthy transition period in line with the will of the Libyan people is running there.


The demands of the crowd in Tahrir Square today are being taken into consideration, and these are indeed legitimate demands. Furthermore, we are greatly gratified to observe that Egypt has entered a real and comprehensive election process for the very first time in many years.  


Direct initiatives were also taken in some other countries of the region such as Morocco and Jordan, in accordance with the people’s demands such as democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. Very important steps were taken toward reform in these countries. As a matter of fact, a successful and objective election process was conducted in Morocco also a few days ago, before the eyes of the international community. 


At a period when such a widespread transformation process is taking place, we would have liked to see and hoped that a transformation process could also be undertaken in  friendly and neighborly Syria, in line with the demands of its people. All we hoped for Syria was that it would pioneer these transition processes and that the Syrian Administration would show leadership in administering these transformation processes as its own initiative.


Because, as a result of our intense efforts, we have strengthened our relations with Syria during the last decade and elevated our relations to the highest levels in a short period of time. The history, destiny and future of Syria are our history, our destiny and our future. Turkey never left Syria alone throughout history and will not leave Syria alone now. We paid great attention to stand side by side with Syria during its most difficult times. When there were efforts to isolate Syria from the entire world in 2005, Turkey demonstrated the strongest and the most resolute stance against these efforts. In our contacts with Syria, we always encouraged Syria to share our experiences and the Syrian Administration to implement the necessary reforms required by our day. We tried to contribute to the conduct of these reforms in the most comprehensive way as a result of the intensive contacts between our Ministries  through the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council we have established. We shared all  know-how, experiences and knowledge we have. We wanted Syria to accomplish economic development and prosperity along with us and achieve a complete integration with us in every field. Our hope, objective and vision in this regard still continue.


However, Syria misinterpreted unfortunately the flow of history in our region and the process of normalization in history. It has gone round into a spiral, and entered into a vicious circle.  We have made every effort in this period in order to prevent the entanglement into a vicious circle.  In the periods when the first winds of Arab Spring were blowing, as you know, the Prime Minister and I went to Syria in January. During our talks in Aleppo, we tried to encourage the Syrian Government for reforms by making commitments to share all the experiences and knowledge that we have. We shared our views with extreme clarity and candour. We emphasized that it was essential to take steps and implement the reforms in line with the demands and expectations of the people.


Unfortunately, the Syrian Government gave more priority to security measures that falls into the spiral of violence than democratic openings, in spite of our recommendations, warnings and convictions.


In April, I went to Syria again, this time to convey the oral messages of our President and our Prime Minister. We conveyed our convictions to the Syrian side during our very comprehensive meetings. We also sent several technical delegations regarding the reforms that needed to be implemented by the Syrian side. We reiterated that we will support the efforts towards reforms with all our available means. However, the Syrian Administration took a path of increasingly violent policies again, instead of concentrating on reforms and they kept their commitments about reforms on the agenda as a delaying tactic.


Nevertheless, we did not give up. We not only met the very intensive requests of the Syrian citizens, our brothers, to enter Turkey and seek refuge, but we also made the necessary recommendations to the Syrian Government. We constantly made recommendations to them to see the realities and to take the right course. Although we were criticized about being deceived by the promises of the Syrian Government by several circles, we maintained our persistence.


Finally, we developed a new initiative last August and I went to Damascus once again with a view to conveying the written message of our President and the oral message of our Prime Minister, in spite of the policies of increased violence in Syria during the first days of the holy month of Ramadan. Although we agreed on a road map during this long meeting, right after some initial positive steps, the Syrian Administration intensified its military repression, unfortunately, towards the cities.


Today, we know what the crisis in Syria is and the reasons behind it. The developments unfolding in our region have shown that the most profound bond between the rulers and its people is the bond of legitimacy. The sustainability of a State depends on the sustainability of the bond of legitimacy on political and mental and of conscience terms between the rulers and its people.  If this bonds breaks, crisis becomes inevitable as is the case in Syria and there is no way back. This is exactly what the Syrian Administration has failed to comprehend until today.


Thus, collective punishment techniques, laying siege to cities, bombing the mosques, using excessive violence against peaceful demonstrators, killing tens of people every day by pointing guns to its own people first by deploying armed gangs such as shebiha and then the army troops are reflections of the lack of comprehension of the Syrian Administration about legitimacy. The Syrian Administration has further lost its legitimacy with every bullet fired and with every minaret bombed. The Syrian Administration further lost contact not only with its own people, but also with Turkey and the Arab States, which defended the Syrian Administration when it was exposed to difficult pressures and isolation in the international arena. In our opinion, by wasting all the opportunities offered to them, including the final opportunity of the Arab League and wasting also a way out, the Syrian Administration has come to the end of the road. The Syrian Administration prepared the ground for this result on its own.


I would like to highlight one point here with clarity again. We never had and will never have a hidden agenda about either Syria, or our region. Our only agenda and strategic vision is to guarantee our common future and to ensure that stability, peace, tranquility and prosperity prevails in our region.


Unfortunately, the Syrian Administration is applying methods that are being monitored anxiously by all people living in this geography. The Syrian issue has now become the issue of the entire region, and it is impossible to overcome this crisis unless it is dealt within regional ownership. That is why we have exerted quite intense joint efforts with the Arab League recently. 


Because, we are concerned. We are concerned for the Syrian people. We are concerned for the region. The sense of politics based on ethnic and sectarian identity is beginning to besiege our region and the ensuing conflicts are serious threats for our entire region. This threat can only be eliminated by constructing a democratic consensus culture.


In this respect, the responsibility we have shouldered and initiatives we have undertaken today are an expression and reflection of ensuring the prevalence of peace, tranquility and stability as well as assuming the ownership of our future.


We believe that all the efforts of the international community should aim at stopping the bloodshed  in Syria.


Thus the Arab League, comprised by 22 Arab countries, sought a solution very anxiously in the face of developments in Syria and offered to send observers in order to understand the events correctly in Syria. However, Syria lost this last chance, like all the previous chances it was offered.


The presence of observers would have been an important initiative enabling the process in Syria be understood correctly and eliminating the possibility of future violence. Unfortunately, this initiative was not welcomed by the Syrian Administration either. 


Therefore, last weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Babacan and I went to Cairo and held talks with Arab League Ministers. They also consulted with us about the stance adopted by Syria, and made a decision on the adoption of a series of measures against this country. 


The fact that the other Arab countries showed such responsibility and sensitivity towards developments in Syria is highly meaningful and praiseworthy. This indicates that the Syrian people are not abandoned by the other Arab peoples.


On the other hand, the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established to investigate the violations of human rights in Syria by the UN Human Rights Council, published on 28 November 2011 indicates the gravity of the humanitarian situation in the country. Moreover, the report even concludes that Syrian security forces have committed crimes against humanity.


Violence committed by the Syrian Administration against civilians voicing their legitimate demands, a mentality that points guns to its own people is unacceptable. No administration can emerge victorious from a fight against its own people.


At this current stage in Syria, the use of excessive force and violence against the civilian population must immediately be stopped and the security forces must immediately withdraw from the cities. A transition process towards constitutional democracy in line with the people's legitimate demands should begin as soon as possible, in the real sense, not virtually. The experience of the last nine months unfortunately attests that this regime will not take this step on its own.


Therefore, it is imperative to increase the regional and international pressure on the Syrian Administration and to take steps in order to curtail the capacity of this administration to engage in cruelty against its people. In this regard, it has become inevitable for the Arab League, as well as Turkey, to take certain measures against the Syrian Government which continues to ignore such realities. 


The measures adopted at this stage by our Government, in close consultation with my fellow Minister colleagues and in accordance with the guidance given by our Prime Minister and our President, can be summarized as follows:


1.                  Suspending the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council mechanism until a democratic administration comes to power.


2.                  Imposing travel ban and asset freeze measures against some members of the Syrian leadership who have been reportedly involved in incidents where excessive violence and illegal methods were used against civilians; imposing similar measures to some known businessmen who are firm supporters of the regime.


3.                  Maintaining the current practice of no sale and supply of any sort of arms and military equipment to the Syrian Army.


4.                  Preventing transfer of arms and military equipment to Syria from third countries via Turkish territories, airspace and territorial waters to the extent Turkey’s international obligations allow.


5.                  Stopping transactions with the Syrian Central Bank.


6.                  Freezing of financial assets of the Syrian Government in Turkey.


7.                  Stopping credit payments with the Syrian Government.


8.                  Stopping transactions with the Commercial Bank of Syria, excluding current transactions.


9.                  Announcing the suspension of the Eximbank loan agreement concluded for financing infrastructure projects in Syria.



On this occasion, I would like to reemphasize one particular point.


We have conducted a very meticulous study with my fellow Ministers in order to ensure that the measures we have adopted will not affect adversely the brotherly Syrian people. Hence, we have scrutinized very carefully our options.


The basic principles that we are applying to the measures imposed on the Syrian Administration, are above all, entail no harm to the people of Syria, but protecting them from the negative impacts of the administration’s mistakes.  In this context, substances essential for the maintenance of Syrian people’s everyday life, in particular water, are not included in these measures. We will continue to take every precaution so as to prevent that our Syrian brothers do not face any difficulty in their daily lives.


            Secondly, through these measures we are targeting the Syrian regime’s capability and capacity to implement any kind of violence against its own people.


From now on, we will also consider additional measures we may adopt according to the attitude of the Syrian Administration with the same meticulousness.


We hope that the Syrian Administration realizes that the only way out from the dead-end that it had entered is to fully implement the people's legitimate demands and to bring to an end the violence and repressive policies against the civilian population.


Turkey will resolutely continue to stand side by side with the Syrian people during this difficult period. Because, we strongly believe that we share a common future with the people of Syria and that we will build together such a common future. We wish success to the Syrian people in their just struggle.


I thank you very much.



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