Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called embattled Bashar al-Assad Tuesday to urge the Syrian leader to enact reforms in the country that is being torn apart by the state’s brutal crackdown against protesters, according to Agence France Presse (AFP).
Erdogan and Assad are reportedly on friendly termsm, and this far the Turkish leader has been subdued in his criticism about the Assad regime.
I told Assad clearly our worries and anxiety because of current developments, Erdogan said. The current process is a disturbing process.
Erdogan added that Assad's decision last week to lift 48-year-old emergency laws was a good start, but more was needed.
Reuters reported that Erdogan will send an envoy to Damascus to push Assad into making more democratic reforms.
There are more steps to be taken in Syria, Erdogan said during a joint news conference with the visiting premier of Kyrgyzstan.
We absolutely do not expect or want an undemocratic implementation and certainly not an authoritarian, totalitarian, patronizing structure. Our desire is that ... a rapid democratization process takes place. Our representatives will present to [Assad] some of our preparations.
The envoy may be dispatched to Syria as soon as Thursday, Erdogan noted.
Relations between the two Near East neighbors have improved markedly under Erdogan’s Islamist-oriented government.
On Saturday, the Turkish government had expressed its deep concern over reports that Syrian state security forces had killed dozens, perhaps hundreds, of demonstrators, and arrested hundreds more. Ankara emphasized that reform measures in Syria should be continued with determination, completed in the shortest possible time and put into practice without wasting time.