Turkey will not close its doors to Syrians fleeing unrest in their country, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday, after a group of approximately169 Syrians fled the border town of Jisr al-Shughour overnight, and fearing bloodshed.
"We are monitoring developments in Syria with concern," Erdoğan said at a news conference. He also urged Damascus to "change its attitude toward civilians" and "take its attitude to a more tolerant level as soon as possible."
Turkey has exerted efforts for a peaceful transition process in Syria, but reforms have not been carried out at the desired speed and are being outpaced by growing violence, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told the private channel NTV Wednesday. He said Turkey is prepared to deal with a mass influx of Syrian refugees.
"We have taken all necessary precautions in case of a massive flow of crossings," Davutoğlu said, implying a security check would be made for Syrian refugees. "We have to determine their intention [in] seeking refuge."
People who fled the town of Jisr al-Shughour on Wednesday -- fearing a government crackdown after the alleged massacre of 120 policemen -- are being sheltered at a camp set up by the Turkish Red Crescent in the Yayladagi district of Hatay, a Turkish city on the Syrian border.
A total of 420 Syrians have crossed the border into Turkey since the start of the unrest, a Turkish Foreign Ministry diplomat told the Daily News. The Anatolia news agency reported, however, that new groups are continuing to arrive at the Turkish border. And Turkish officials also told reporters that many Syrians were waiting at villages near the border.
Syria's government said "armed gangs" killed 120 security forces in an ambush over the weekend. Other reports say that the mutiny of Syrian soldiers who refused to fire on civilians set off deadly fighting between officers and security guards. Thirty-five Syrians wounded in the clashes are being treated at Turkish hospitals after crossing the border, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday.
Ankara has enjoyed good relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but has been putting pressure on him to initiate a democratic transition while stopping his regime's bloody crackdown on protesters. In April, Erdoğan sent his envoy to Damascus to urge al-Assad to take steps toward reforms, offering Turkey's expertise for the suggested political and economic overhaul. Syrian opposition groups gathered in the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya last week to discuss a transition process in Syria.
More than 1,100 civilians have been killed in Syria and at least 10,000 arrested in a brutal crackdown on almost daily street demonstrations that have simmered since March 15, human rights organizations have reported.
Syrians Take Refuge in Turkey
Fear became true. Hundreds of Syrians crossed the border near Hatay and migrated to Turkey after the operations started in Cisr Eş Şugur vicinity near the border. Prime Minister Erdoğan said that Turkey will not close the doors to her Syrian brothers, and will do their best to accommodate those who escaped from a possible massacre. Erdoğan continued, saying, "We wish the Syrian government and administration will take the necessary steps to further the promised reforms to prevent the human rights act for Syria's unity."
Turkish PM Slams Pro-Kurdish BDP in Bingol
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday criticized Turkey's pro-Kurdish party for exploiting religion to lure votes. Independent deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, talked about Islam and religion at their May 11 election rallies in the eastern province of Bingöl, despite insisting their religion is Zoroastrianism, Erdoğan said.
"Since when has this terror organization, the BDP, attached importance to the religious values of this nation?" Erdoğan asked. He also said that Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, sees himself as a god.
"'God is not for Kurds and confuses Kurds, that's why I am our God.' Who says this? Abdullah Öcalan. That's who. Trusting in Abdullah Öcalan, the BDP says in rallies that he is their God," Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan earlier said the BDP made people recite the call to prayer in Kurdish, but later denied it. "But we have their recordings," he said, adding that Öcalan, likewise, insulted prayer, which was featured in the book he wrote.
Erdoğan also called on locals to vote in the elections and show resistance to the BDP.
Erdogan's Choice of Words Constitututes Declaration of War Against Kurds
Aysel Tugluk, co-chairperson of the Democratic People Congress, visited Abdullah Ocalan in Imralı Island. The imprisoned Ocalan said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent speeches, and the language and wording he chose, is a declaration of war against the Kurds. Tugluk says Ocalan wanted to warn the prime minister about his words. She said Ocalan does not see anything good or fair from Erdoğan, nor does she see any positive approach from the him to solve the Kurdish Problem. Rather, she said, his actions and words are definitely against the Kurds.
Turkey Won't Release Ocalan
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied the claims of Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, which said the AK Party would release the PKK terrorist organization's head, Abdullah Öcalan, after the general elections.
"I've never thought about such a thing," Erdoğan said. "As long as I and my party are in rule, we will apply Öcalan's sentence."
Kurdish Call to Prayer is Betrayal to Kurds
The Peace and Democracy Party, also known as the BDO, asked imams to make a call to prayer in Kurdish in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa in a practice resembling the fascism of National Chief, second president İsmet İnönü, which elicited reactions from the Kurds and the Turks. Religious authorities in the region defined the decision as "racism." Experts defined the practice as a betrayal to Muslim Kurds, calling it "an imitation of Stalinism."
Erdogan Calls Cabinet 'Mastership Era'
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made public the new structure of his cabinet, which he defined as the "mastership era cabinet." The number of ministries, including the office of the prime minister, will drop from 27 to 25. Eight state ministries will be abolished and six new ministries will be established. They are: the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, the Ministry of European Union, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Development, and the Ministry of Customs and Trade. Each minister will have a deputy.
Turkey Needs Stronger Opposition
The Economist, a British weekly that focuses on international politics and business, called for a support to opposition in Turkey, writing: "The Justice and Development Party disturbingly started to display authoritarian tendencies. Turkey needs a stronger opposition, not a stronger president."
'I Am Ready' to Become Prime Minister, Kılıçdaroğlu says
Republican People's Party Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said his party was approaching the general elections with a strong and widespread wave. "I am ready to become a prime minister," Kılıçdaroğlu said. "I am ready to take over and establish the nation's ruling."
Newspaper Calculates Seat Numbers for June 13
After Sunday's general elections, Radikal, a daily newspaper, has come up with several June 13 scenarios, calculating the possible distribution of MPs among political parties and thought of a parliament excluding MHP. Accordingly, the new parliament will consist of 292 to 335 Justice and Development (AK) Party members; the Republican People's Party will have between 120 and 175 parliamentarians. If MHP enters parliament, it will have between 45 and 70 MPs; the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and independent deputies, will have between 28 and 37 seats.
Şahinkaya Has No Regrets
Following the testimony of Kenan Evren, Tahsin Sahinkaya gave his own within the scope of the September 12 military coup investigations. Şahinkaya's answers corresponded with Evren's. Şahinkaya said they used their authority in line with the 35th article of inner services law during coup period and he did not regret it.