World Bulletin/News Desk
Deputy Foreign Minister Naci Koru said on Wednesday that embattled Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's chances of remaining in power are slim. "Can you name anyone who was able to stay in power after killing 100,000 people?" was how Koru responded to a question on Syria during an address to university students at İstanbul's Marmara University.
Underlining that Turkey has been acting along with the rest of the world as far as Syria is concerned, Koru said Iran supports the Assad regime despite its crackdown on its own people, and added that Turkey's policy on Syria is the complete opposite of that of Iran.
While referring to Turkey's open-door policy for people who have fled Syria, Koru did not shy away from expressing the financial and social burden Syrian refugees put on Turkey.
Describing the influx of approximately 350,000 Syrians into Turkey as a “social trauma,” Koru was critical of Turkey having to carry the entire financial burden despite the appreciation expressed by the international community.
Koru, however, likens the Syrian refugee problem to a fire in the house of one's next-door neighbor, saying: “Imagine you have a neighbor whose house is on fire. Can you turn such a neighbor away when he asks for help?”
Koru said Turkey desires the return of the Syrian refugees to their homes when the conflict is over and added that the humanitarian dimension of Turkish foreign policy requires Turkey to help Syrians.
Responding to a question regarding problems at the Turkish-Syrian border, Koru said Turkey desires the peaceful and free movement of people among the countries of the region when the conflict is over.
Xenophobia on rise in Europe
According to Koru, the financial crisis and the rise of xenophobia and neo-Nazism in Europe are among the problems with the EU. He said that despite everything, in the long run, Turkey will become a member of the EU.
In the meantime, “we are doing our best to remove Schengen visas,” Koru pointed out.
Speaking about the recently launched e-visa project of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which allows the citizens of numerous countries to obtain their visa to Turkey online, Koru said Turkey is the first and only country to initiate such a project.
The ministry projects an increase in tourism and trade revenues of Turkey with this project, which will also be extended to Chinese citizens, starting on May 15.
Turkish schools abroad must be supported
Koru advised university students who are interested in a career in diplomacy to learn a second foreign language in addition to English since the ministry needs staff who know a variety of languages.
The deputy foreign minister also provided figures regarding Turkey's increasing engagement in Africa and Latin America, which has resulted in a boom in economic relations with these regions.
According to the ministry's latest figures, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa rose from 12 in 2002 to 34 in 2013. In a similar trend, Turkey became the ninth country in terms of the number of foreign missions around the world. The number of foreign diplomatic missions in Turkey also rose from 148 in 2000 to 242 in 2013.Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2013, 10:31