Statement by Presidential Spokesperson Ambassador İbrahim Kalın

31.08.2016

“First of all, I would like to share with you a few points regarding the process we are currently going through. July 15 started as a dark night but thankfully it has taken its place in the history of Turkish democracy as a great success and now injuries are swiftly being healed. Today Turkey is much stronger compared to the pre-July 15 coup period. Turkey is now in unity and solidarity. This process has once again manifested how robust Turkey’s politics, economy and society are.

Had such a coup attempt, such bloody incidents taken place in a different country, the state would collapse, state institutions would break down, economy would crash, society would disintegrate, the politics would cease to produce policies and grave security weaknesses would emerge. But none of these has been experienced in Turkey. And thus the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)’s plans to divide and weaken Turkey have come to nought. What is more, just six weeks after the coup attempt had been squashed, Turkey launched the Operation Euphrates Shield and inaugurated the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge. These two developments alone, besides others, have once again manifested how strong Turkey’s politics, economy and society are. In this sense, we are pleased to see that this nation, who said either independence or death in 1922, still preserves this spirit of the August 30 Victory, which we celebrated yesterday.

Of course one wishes in heart that our friends in the West would also see this spirit and fully understand this reality of Turkey. I have said earlier and now I am repeating, it is really unacceptable that as of now no visit has been paid to our country from Europe at the level of head of state. Without doubt, statements have been made and telephone conversations have taken place and we appreciate them. However, it cannot be so difficult for the heads of state and the Europeans to come to these lands after such a heinous and bloody coup attempt and express their support for this august nation who thwarted the coup with bare hands.

As you know, visits have taken place in the meantime at various levels. Those visitors have had the opportunity to witness the gravity of the incident in person at places such as the Parliament, Presidential Complex, Special Operations headquarters, and other locations. Despite everything, today Turkey is much stronger compared to the past, standing upright in a sense with the spirit of August 7 Yenikapı Rally.

Within this framework, the fight against the coup plotters and the FETO has been going on in a comprehensive and determined manner following the July 15 coup attempt. And this process will be carried on in line with the principles of the rule of law, transparency and accountability, and without any compromise, until these principles of the rule of law, merit, transparency and accountability are totally established within the state. Because FETO members have worked for years to take over the state by exploiting these principles for their own interests. But their plans have been foiled thanks to our nation and the sagacious leadership of Mr. President. And what is being done currently is clearing up this mess, restructuring the state and taking necessary steps in a manner commensurate with the gravity and severity of the incident so as to prevent the repetition of similar incidents such as infiltration, coup d’état, forming parallel structures, etc.

Secondly, as you know Mr. President will attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit in China that will start on Sunday. Global economic developments, inclusiveness, and the issues we discussed at the G20 Leaders’ Summit last year in Antalya during our term presidency will be addressed in detail at the next G20 Leaders’ Summit in China.

Of course G20 has an important political agenda in addition to its economic agenda. Accordingly we will again bring up in Mr. President’s speeches the issues that we raised last year such as terrorism, fight against terrorism, and refugees.

On this occasion, Mr. President, both at the Summit and in his bilateral meetings, will have the opportunity to recount the July 15 coup attempt and the fight against FETO.

The President will also hold a large number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Summit. I would like to share the ones that have become definite as of today. This number will probable increase a lot. Mr. President will meet with President of the People’s Republic of China, President of the United States of America and President of the Russian Federation. Mr. President will receive Prime Minister of Japan, EU representatives and UN Secretary General. Mr. President is also scheduled to attend a quartet meeting with President of France, Chancellor of Germany and Prime Minister of Italy. We will hold bilateral meetings to the extend our schedule allows and thus will have the opportunity to address both the G20 Leaders’ Summit agenda and the developments in Turkey in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt as well as the FETO and other regional issues including developments in Syria.

As you know important steps are also being taken regarding the normalization of relations with Russia. We will further discuss this issue in detail during the meeting we will hold on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. The decision taken during our visit to Russia on August 9 has already started to be put into practice. In particular Russian Government’s decision to restart charter flights, which especially concerns the tourism sector, will be put into practice on September 3. On this occasion I would like to express our pleasure on this decision. Further steps will continue to be taken related to import, export, transport, energy, superstructure investments and other issues.

Another topic is the Operation Euphrates Shield, which started about one week ago. As I have already stated, the Turkish Armed Forces has launched the Operation Euphrates Shield just six weeks after the coup attempt in order to ensure the border security, provide safety for the life and property of the citizens living in the region and wipe out all the terrorist elements from the region, and has been successfully conducting it so far. The operation is aimed at fighting against Daesh and all other terrorist organizations including the YPG, and cleansing our borders of terrorists and thus ensuring our border security. In this regard, Turkey is exercising its rights emanating from international law and conducting this operation in coordination with the international coalition.

Some speculations are being made regarding the operation. The operation is primarily aimed at ensuring our border security and wiping out the terrorist elements from there. From time to time we hear statements especially from the US officials that show Turkey and terrorist organizations PYD and YPG as equals, so to speak. These are unacceptable. Turkey is a sovereign country, an ally of the NATO, and one of the strongest actors of the region. Our statements since the beginning regarding the Operation Euphrates Shield are clear. We have made the necessary coordination with the coalition, the United States and the Russian Federation on time and duly informed them on the issue.

We see that terrorist organization’s propagandas find their way into the mainstream political discourse from time to time. I would like to express that this disturbs us. The Operation Euphrates Shield is an operation carried out against Daesh and other terrorist organizations with an aim to clear Jarablus and its south. We strongly condemn attempts that try to display this operation as if it was an operation against Syrian Kurds or as if its aim was to prevent Kurds’ gains. This is out of the question. Turkey has no problems with Syrian Kurds. Turkey has no problems with any Kurd living in Turkey, Iraq, Iran or anywhere else in the region and the world. We solely have a PKK problem and terror problem. Back at a time when there was yet no one mentioning even the name of Kurds in 2008-2009-2010 even before the beginning of the Arab spring and Syrian war, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised the issues of recognizing Kurds’ identity rights and giving them identity cards with the Assad regime as well as advising the regime that investments should be made in the region.

It was again Turkey that let in nearly 200.000 locals from Kobane during Kobane events. Kurds were making up the majority of these people. The Republic of Turkey took them in with a very quick operation in just one week without making any distinction among them. For this reason, trying to display Operation Euphrates Shield as if it was against Kurds only means serving the terrorist organization’s propaganda.

Another issue is that in fact the PKK is working to create a de-facto situation in Syria by using Syrian war as an excuse under the cover of fight against Daesh and it is thus aiming to achieve in Syria what it failed to do in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. That is to say, it is in a struggle to establish a terrorist organization-sponsored state, statelet or canton structures. Of course it is out of the question for Turkey and other regional countries to allow these. We are of the opinion that this issue should be clearly understood by our western friends. Because this kind of developments and de-facto situations will jeopardize the territorial integrity of Syria, escalate ethnic and sectarian tensions in Syria and further deteriorate the problem in the country. Turkey will continue to make use of all diplomatic channels in order for Syria to maintain its territorial integrity and switch to a pluralistic and inclusive political administration. Our efforts to that end will continue on various platforms and we will raise these issues at the bilateral meetings that we will have on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, as well.

Finally I would like to draw your attention to an issue regarding the humanitarian situation in Aleppo. Escalating clashes there are a source of worry for us. Innocent people being killed there is unacceptable and Mr. President is conducting a diplomacy traffic to enable a ceasefire or an environment of non-conflict on the occasion of the oncoming Eid al-Adha. He will also talk this issue with his counterparts during his meetings at the G20. There is also an ongoing work under the roof of the UN to stop clashes and deliver humanitarian aid. Turkey is supporting these efforts. Once this corridor is established, humanitarian aids will be delivered to there through Turkey. Hopefully in the upcoming days we can enable that environment as soon as possible and deliver humanitarian aids to there.

I also would like to state that we will send the second aid ship to Gaza in a few days on the occasion of the Eid al-Adha. As you remember, we sent the first aid ship just before the start of Eid al-Fitr and the second ship, which is especially laden with aid materials intended for children because of the feast such as bicycles, shoes, bags, coats, school materials, etc., will hopefully set sail soon and these aid materials will be delivered to our brothers and sisters in Gaza in Eid al-Adha via our institutions there.”