Turkey mulls suspension of free trade agreement with Syria
ANKARA, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) — Turkey’s Economy Ministry has drafted a decree on suspension of free trade agreement with Syria amid ongoing bilateral diplomatic friction, Turkish semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Friday.
The decree has been submitted to the Council of Ministers, Anatolia quoted Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici as saying.
As Syrian officials have on Dec. 1 suspended a free trade deal between Damascus and Ankara, Syria has also been reportedly blocking the entrance of Turkish trucks at the Babel Hawas Border Gate since early this month, claiming that they were working on the computer systems.
Yazici confirmed that the Akcakale and Nusaybin border gates were closed, but the Cilvegozu and Yayladagi gates are still running. He said that Turkey is working on alternative routes, including ship services from its southern Mersin province to Aqaba in Jordan and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced last week a series of sanction measures against Syria, including the freezing of its government assets in Turkey, the blockade of weapons delivery through Turkey, a travel ban on Syrian leaders, and the suspension of relations between the Turkish and Syrian central banks.
Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has gradually toughened its criticism of the Syrian administration for its crackdown on protests. Turkish leaders have on many occasions called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the crackdown and step down.