Turkey has never had contact with Syria's Assad, says EU Minister Çelik
by Ali Ünal
ANKARAOct 15, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Oct 15, 2016 12:00 am
EU Minister Ömer Çelik said Turkey has never had contact with Syrian President Basher Assad either through direct contact or backdoor diplomacy. Answering a question from Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy İdris Baluken on Oct. 13 in Parliament, Çelik said that Ankara has not contacted Basher Assad and have no intention of contacting someone who murders his own people with fighter jets and chemical weapons and who is "totally illegitimate."
Underlining that Turkey's stance on Syria is clear, Çelik described the Assad regime in Damascus as a "massacre regime." "Assad is a murderer, and we have never had direct or indirect contact with him so far and will not hereafter," Çelik said. "I would like to indicate very clearly that we were in contact with Assad when he was not killing his own people," he added.
"When the Arab Spring started, we foresaw that this turbulence would spread to Syria, and to prevent disorder on our doorstep, we spoke with Assad. As I witnessed in these meetings, we suggested that Assad implement several reforms, such as allowing political parties in the country and strengthening the civil and social rights of ethnic groups in Syria. And most importantly, when no one was discussing Kurds in Syria during Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Prime Ministry, we proposed that Assad give legal status and civil rights to Syrian Kurds," Çelik said.
Underlining that Turkey considers Syria's ethnic and religious minorities as "brothers," Çelik dismissed all allegations that Turkey supports gangs in Syria and that such claims are baseless. "As Turkey, we have supported the legitimate opposition and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces since the Syrian civil war started. This is not just our policy, but also the policy of our allies in Syria," Çelik added. "Our stance in Syria is clear. We want a political transition that represents all the people in Syria," he added.
Turkish daily Aydınlık reported on Thursday that an official delegation from Foreign Ministry with Arabic speaking diplomats would visit the Syrian capital Damascus in the coming days. A high level source from Foreign Ministry denied the allegation and stressed that there is no preparation for or planned visit to Damascus to restore relations with the Assad administration. "The article that claims an official delegation from the Foreign Ministry would visit Damascus is fictional and does not reflect the truth," diplomatic sources said.