Syria Live Blog
Syria - Apr 26, 2012 - 17:23
Turkey is considering every possibility if the continuing violence in neighbouring Syria send tens of thousands of refugees pouring across the border, its foreign minister said Thursday.
"In the face of developments in Syria, we are taking into consideration any kind of possibility in line with our national security and interests," Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament during a briefing to lawmakers.
"Planning what kind of measures we will take if tens of thousands of people end up on our border is a requirement of being a big state," he said.
"This is not an intervention or warmongering as some claim."
The foreign minister did not specify what measures his government would take, but the mass influx of refugees fleeing the Syrian unrest has raised alarm in Ankara.
Different scenarios are being floated by the media, including the setting up of a buffer zone along the border with Syria to protect refugees but opponents say such a measure would be a declaration of war.
In response to criticism from opposition parties, Davutoglu said Turkey did not attempt to change the regime of any country in the region including Syria.
"It was not we who initiated the popular movement in Syria. We didn't call on anybody to rise up," he said. "But we cannot and will not remain silent to the masses' appeal for democracy."
Turkey, once a strong ally of Syria, broke with Damascus after Bashar al-Assad's regime began cracking down on dissent in mid-March last year, sending waves of Syrian refugees into Turkish territory.
Although some of the refugees have headed back to Syria following Damascus's promise to implement international mediator Kofi Annan's ceasefire plan, Turkey still hosts more than 23,000 Syrians.
"Peace and stability can be restored in Syria not with the Baath regime but with a new political system which takes its legitimacy from the people," said Davutoglu. [AFP]