'Syrians must be put first amid proxy war in country'

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

By Zuhal Demirci

DOHA (AA) – Syrians should be prioritized over the national agendas pushed by various countries that are using the conflict in Syria as a theater for proxy wars, Turkey's presidential spokesperson said Saturday.

Attending the 19th Doha Forum, a panel on Syria in the Qatari capital of Doha, Ibrahim Kalin asked whether, after "eight years of fighting", the Syrian crisis was "seen by some as a political opportunity to advance other political agenda in the region".

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Underlining that the conflict in Syria must come to an end, Kalin argued that it has been a scene of much "grandstanding" and "political muscling in the region."

He asserted that the international community should prioritize the plight of Syrians, adding: "We have to put the Syrian people first, before any other national agenda."

Kalin called on all countries to join forces to solve terrorism as well as the migration crisis, which he said was a result of terrorism, adding that all international actors such as the U.S, Russia and Turkey must find a way to produce a solution for the Syrian people and give them hope.

Noting that Turkey currently hosted 3.6 million Syrian refugees and wanted these refugees to return to their homes voluntarily and safely, he said: "We have never forced anybody to go back to Syria involuntarily or to go anywhere they didn't come from and we want to follow the same principle."

"We began this work [repatriation] with the UNHCR. We are in talks with the UN secretary-general as well as with the UNHCR to advance the program. We're doing a very detailed study of who came from where and where they can go back to in Syria," he said.

Kalin warned the international community of military action against northwestern Syria's Idlib province, which he said would be extremely dangerous and would lead to fresh migration waves.

"It will put more pressure on us [Turkey], and that will put more pressure on the Europeans. But Idlib cannot be solved on its own. It will be part of a larger political settlement in Syria. That's why the political process is extremely important," he said.

Underlining the importance of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, Kalin said the committee must be "supported by all".

"If the constitutional committee does its work, and produces some binding documents with the support of the international community under the UN umbrella, then we can envisage a situation where the Syrian people, both inside and outside, can go to the ballot box and vote," he said.

"We have to really work with the international community with everyone — the UN, the U.S., Russia, Iran, all of us have — to work to make sure that free and fair elections under international observation can be held in Syria," he stressed.

Kalin also criticized the international community for not taking responsibility, saying: "Everybody's talking about not having any more Syrian refugees coming out of Syria, or going from Turkey to Europe, but they're not doing anything to address the problem."

*Writing by Fahri Aksut

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