Lending credence to the argument that the U.S. and Europe allowed the situation in Syria to deteriorate, Turkey's Pres. Abdullah Gul said Syria is dying and threatens to become an "Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean."
Islamic jihadist groups are radicalizing ordinary people across Syria as they pose a growing risk to the country's neighbours and the European nations. Pres. Gul was speaking to The Guardian in an exclusive interview during a weekend visit to Edinburgh, where he attended the Turkey-Britain Tatli Dil bilateral forum among other engagements.
Reiterating his view that the U.N. Security Council actions on Syria was a disgrace, the president said the response of the international community security and humanitarian challenges in the conflict-ridden nation has been very disappointing.
Free Syrian Army fighters take shooting position with their weapons towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district November 3, 2013. (REUTERS/Saad Abobrahim)
Speaking about Turkish involvement in the crisis Pres. Gul said, "We did not have any conflict with Syria, but when those human rights violations begun to occur and there was massacring of the people of Syria, then it become a matter for mankind, for us all, the international community. It's only by virtue of being a neighbouring country that Turkey is so very much involved. Also from the point of view the fact that we are hosting 500,000 Syrians in Turkey. Two hundred thousand of them live in camps and 300,000 in the cities through their own means."
He added Turkey has so far spent $2 billion for the Syrian refugees and will continue to do so because of the humanitarian nature of the crisis. He noted seeing the indifference of the international community was regrettable.
Pres. Gul stressed if left unchecked the deteriorating crisis in Syria posed serious security and counterterrorism challenges for Turkey.
"If the atmosphere remains as it is, then this can lead to more radicalization and some groups in the civil war becoming more extreme, dividing up, not being under control, and spreading across that country. Because under those circumstances, ordinary people could become much more extreme and this is something that poses a danger and threat not just for Turkey - it's an issue for everyone.
"I don't think anybody would tolerate the presence of something like Afghanistan on the shores of the Mediterranean. For that reason, the international community must have a very solid position with respect to Syria," he said.
Speaking about the need for Geneva II peace conference on Syria proposed to be held this month, Pres. Gul said it was important that stakeholders be better prepared. He, however, expressed scepticism that the next Geneva meeting would achieve a breakthrough.
"The country is destroyed ... There really isn't in my opinion much that can be done now," he claimed.
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