Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was speaking to reporters during a visit to China on Tuesday, a day after Syrian forces opened fire across the border, killing two people in a refugee camp. Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdoğan as saying Turkey would assess the situation and take steps accordingly.
“What should Turkey do in the event of a border violation? Turkey will eventually do what other countries would do in accordance with international law. This is a right granted to us by the international law,” Erdoğan said.
Recalling that Turkey is hosting some 25,000 Syrian people who fled violence in their country, Erdoğan said Turkey can never close its doors to the Syrian people even if this number reaches 100,000. “You are seeing how these people are escaping [from Syria] on some international television channels. These people are not fleeing out of fancy. They are fleeing death. You cannot close your doors to these people,” the prime minister said.
“They [Syrian soldiers] are even shooting fleeing people in the back. They are mercilessly shooting regardless of whether they are women or children. Look, he [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] gave a promise to Mr. [Kofi] Annan, but 60, 70, 80, 100 people are still being killed a day since then. Additionally, now there is a clear border violation. This is clear. We will also make a necessary assessment with regards to this border violation. Our diplomacy is continuing with neighboring countries and we will, of course, take the necessary steps,” he added.
His remarks come on the last day of a deadline when Assad was to withdraw his forces from population centers under an internationally brokered truce. The cease-fire deal hammered out by UN-Arab League envoy Annan was widely seen as the last chance for diplomacy, and its apparent collapse could push Syria even closer to an all-out civil war.
A 13-month uprising against Assad's regime has turned increasingly militarized in response to a brutal regime crackdown. The fighting is also threatening to spill across Syria's borders, raising the risk of a regional conflagration.
“We will see whether the Syrian administration will keep its promise to Mr. Annan or not today. What we want, as a country which has a nine to 10-kilometer-long border with Syria and close relations with the Syrian people, is an end to the bloodshed and deaths in Syria. This is what we want. We could not tell this to the Syrian regime. They did not want to understand this,” he said.
Erdoğan recalled that Annan will visit refugee camps in southern Turkey later on Tuesday to observe the situation. He said Annan decided to visit the refugee camps upon Turkey's insistence. “We hope, this visit leads to a new approach to the situation,” Erdoğan added.