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Turkey aims for G20 consensus on Syria and Ukraine

Article - April 13, 2015

Turkey aims to use its term as G20 President to forge consensus on tackling the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts, Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz has told The Worldfolio.

“We think that there is the need for the G-20 to develop a clear ontological position on its ability to tackle truly global issues such as the Syria and Ukraine conflicts, rather than just those that directly affect G-20 economies,” Minister Yilmaz says.

“The Ukraine and Syria conflicts are two of our main foreign policy issues on the agenda. During our presidency we will use this opportunity to resolve differences between members.”

As Turkey works towards its goal of becoming a top 10 economy by 2023, its government believes that the G20 has emerged as the most appropriate body for global economic cooperation and policy coordination, due its composition of all the major advanced and emerging economies.

Whilst the G20 is primarily focused on international economic cooperation, Minister Yilmaz believes its informal structure enables open and frank dialogue between leaders, allowing it to take rapid and effective action against crises.

“As members of the G20, we should support ongoing efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and international law,” the Minister stated.

Turkey has repeatedly called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine and the full implementation of the Minsk cease-fire. It does not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and it is especially concerned about the treatment of Crimean Tartars on the disputed peninsula.

“We will also do our best to get G20 countries to focus on Syria and the related humanitarian issues,” Minister Yilmaz continued.

Syria has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since an uprising began against the long-term rule of the Assad dynasty in 2011. The conflict has become murkier since the emergence of Islamist factions, most notably ISIS, which has declared an oppressive caliphate across large swathes of land it has captured in Syria and Iraq.

Describing ISIS as the international community’s “common enemy”, Minister Yilmaz nevertheless reiterated Turkey’s long-held position that there can be no peaceful future for neighouring Syria whilst President Bahsar al-Assad remains in charge.

“The future of Syria should include democratic, inclusive governance, where everyone is equal under a new constitution; one that will uphold the rule of law irrespective of their ethnic or religious background or identity. In this future of Syria, Assad and his close associates should not have a part,” Minister Yilmaz said.

He concluded: “Representing two thirds of the world’s population and 85% of the global economy, G20 members should act in harmony concerning the situation in Syria and focus on collective action to share the burden of the humanitarian crisis.”