CHICAGO - The international community is not doing enough to help resolve the Syrian crisis, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Tuesday as he urged an orderly transition to democracy.
"The international community as whole has so far performed poorly in providing an effective response to the crisis at hand," Gul said in a public address following the NATO summit in Chicago. Gul said Turkey is doing "all it can to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people," including hosting close to 25,000 Syrians who "fled from the regime's campaign of violence."
He deplored the fact that "scores of people are dying in pursuit of their rights and dignity" in Syria and said it is the responsibility of the international community to support the Syrian people's journey to democracy.
"The six-point Annan Plan might still be the last chance for an orderly transition in Syria if it is urgently implemented in all its aspects, including an effective ceasefire, free political activity and exercise of democratic rights," Gul told the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "Once this is achieved, I believe a relatively peaceful political transition can be reached in Syria."
Turkey is "highly concerned" about nuclear proliferation and continues to call for the establishment of a "weapons of mass destruction free zone" which would include both Iran and Israel, Gul said.
Turkey supports Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and Gul said the Iranians need to be "transparent" in assuring the international community that their program is only for non-military applications.
"There is no military solution to this problem," Gul said.
"Any such move will not only further complicate the matter at hand, but will also create new layers of conflict in our region and beyond."
Gul said the solution is to "close the gap of confidence on both sides and pave the way for a meaningful process of dialogue."
Gul also acknowledged that the "jury is still out" as to whether the Arab Spring will lead to the establishment of "functioning democracies" and said it is likely that the region will see "certain ups and downs along the way."
Turkey will provide active leadership in the transition, just as it had during the revolutions, he said.
"Given the high rate of sympathy we enjoy in these countries, we not only share our own experience but provide tangible assistance to them in the form of economic cooperation and political capacity building," he said.
"In particular, we are sharing with them our approach to religious freedom and secularism, and the way we have turned those notions into an ultimate assurance of democratic pluralism and harmony between the state and society."
Libya in particular faces a "huge task" in the months and years ahead, he said.
"They have to set up a new order and this doesn't happen without pain," Gul said.
"It takes a while to get things going and it's not always a very easy process."
However, upcoming elections will be an important step and Gul said he hopes the new political leaders will "value its people."