Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assailed the international community's response to Syria on Saturday, saying the situation is becoming more dire as the United Nations stands idle.
Warning that the increasing bloodshed in Syria represents a "humanitarian disaster," Erdogan told a forum in Istanbul that history would record "with unforgettable remarks" the international community's failure to intervene effectively. He compared Syria's conflict to the Balkan conflict of the 1990s.
“The U.N., which was an onlooker to the massacres of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans 20 years ago, is having the same kind of blindness in Syria today," Erdogan said. "What kind of explanation can be made for the injustice and the inability that is being displayed here?”
Erdogan faulted the "unequal" U.N. decision making process, in which five countries -- the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China -- are permanent members wielding veto power. China and Russia have repeatedly blocked the body from acting, and Russia has been accused of continuing to furnish Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime with arms.
"If we have to wait for what one or two of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will say, then the consequences for Syria will be very dangerous,” Erdogan said, adding that "nobody can claim that the U.N. Security Council is built upon a fair structure" and calling for the U.N. "to be reformed in line with justice."
Turkey has a particularly urgent stake in the situation. Thousands of refugees have flooded across the Syrian border to seek refuge in Turkey, and the Turkish military has begun firing back into Syria after a shell fired from within Syria struck and killed five Turkish civilians.
“More than 30,000 people have been killed in Syria; 250,000 people have had to leave their homes and flee. Some 100,000 of these people are in Turkey right now -- they are our guests here,” Erdogan said.
In addition to the escalating situation along the border, Turkey is in a diplomatic dispute with Russia after its decision to ground a Moscow-to-Damascus flight that Turkish officials said contained military cargo. Russia has denied those allegations, saying the plane was carrying radio equipment.
After having cultivated ties with Syria prior to the uprising against Assad, Turkey's government has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the Syrian leader. Turkey is reportedly bolstering its military presence alongside its hundreds-of-miles-long border with Syria, raising fears about the rising tensions between the two countries.
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