Statement by Presidential Spokesperson Ambassador İbrahim Kalın

13.10.2016

Deputy Secretary General and Spokesperson of the Presidency Ambassador İbrahim Kalın held a press conference at the Presidential Complex.

Spokesperson Kalın stated:

“Security problems in our region continue to hold a major place on our agenda. We will hold a security meeting at the Presidential Complex under the chairmanship of President Erdoğan at 18.00. We will discuss in detail domestic and foreign security issues. We will discuss the fight against the PKK terrorist organization and other terrorist organizations in our country as well as the incidents taking place in Syria, Iraq and other regions, particularly the Operation Euphrates Shield within the context of Syria.

With the Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey has recently become one of the most active members of the international coalition against terror. The Operation Euphrates Shield, launched by Turkey on August 24 with its own means and capabilities, continues successfully. Life is rapidly going back to normal in Jarabulus. You probably saw the news by some reporters; schools are opening again and children are playing in parks. The market and the business world are going back to normal. Over 5 thousand locals have returned to Jarabulus, which is a pleasing development. Our goal is to drive all terrorist elements away from Turkey’s border, which was the primary objective of the Operation Euphrates Shield. As I expressed before, we can say that a new model has been put forth in the fight against DAESH with the Operation Euphrates Shield.

With Turkey’s support to the Free Syrian Army and inclusion of local units, some 90 sq km area has completely been cleared of terrorist elements and normalization has begun there, which tells that an effective fight against DAESH is possible when moderate opposition in Syria is backed with local elements and provided with the necessary logistical, intelligence and humanitarian support. This shows once again that the legend, spread for some time now by American sources that ‘the only force that fights most effectively in the field against DAESH is the YPG’ has collapsed. It has shown once again that an effective fight on the Jarabulus-Azaz line can be carried out by the Free Syrian Army and other opposition groups and that a clearing operation can successfully be conducted against DAESH. The Operation Euphrates Shield will continue to make this area cleared of DAESH a completely terror-free line. It is also becoming more important that the area stretch further deeper, because it is surely not possible that we let DAESH elements come back there after clearing a few kilometers across the border. It is out of the question both for our national security and for the Syrians living there. Therefore, the operation there will be continued in a determined and systematic manner.

As you know, the state of emergency has been extended for another 3 months after the government took the advisory decision of the National Security Council to the parliament. This is a precaution taken to deal with the security threats our country was confronted with after the July 15 coup attempt and to clear FETO elements nested within the state. As Mr. President expressed before, the state of emergency has been declared not for the people but for the state and extended upon need.

I would like to underline this point, because we have been witnessing groundless, unfair claims, criticism are voiced against Turkey particularly abroad regarding the state of emergency. State of emergency has been declared in Turkey as a result of necessity. It is a measure taken for security in general and against the on-going threat of FETO and its nesting within the state in particular. Turkey will continue its fight against FETO determinedly both at home and abroad. Since all their resources and means have been dried up in Turkey, they now are trying to mobilize their means and resources abroad. They are conducting smear campaigns against Turkey. They are trying to conduct certain activities on different avenues. I would like to call on the international community; FETO is not a national security threat only to Turkey but to all countries where they are present. I hope those countries can see FETO's pseudo-legal illegal structure and its dark ties as soon as possible and will take measures.

I hereby would like to touch on developments in Iraq, which is high on our agenda lately. We see that some statements are being made recently on the issue of Bashiqa camp, in particular. First of all, I would like to underline that Turkey has always been on the side of the people and the state of Iraq. Turkey has so far never posed a security threat to Iraq. However, there have always been security threats to Turkey emanating from Iraqi lands because of the weak state structure and internal problems in Iraq as well as the incidents that took place during and after the U.S. invasion of 2003 and before it. We have always, at least for the last 10-15 years, been faced with a security threat because of the presence and nesting of the PKK in Iraq. As you know, our parliament passed a motion on October 1 in order to eliminate that threat. And now we see that some criticisms are leveled by particularly Iraqi side within the context of discussions on this motion. Discussions and evaluations aside, it is out of the question for us to accept the groundless accusations against President Erdoğan. We condemn these lies in the harshest terms. Such statements that target the President of the Republic of Turkey do any good neither to this process nor to Turkey-Iraq relations. It means that those who make these statements or work to stir up this agenda are pursuing a different agenda.

Turkey doesn’t have an eye on Iraqi lands. Turkey has no hidden agenda in Iraq. Whoever thinks otherwise are either ill-intentioned or are gravely deluded. We reject all religious, sectarian and ethnic segregations in Iraq. It is our first priority that Iraq lives in peace and prosperity as a whole. In this regard, the people of Iraq, whether it be Arab, Kurd, Turkmen, Yezidi, Muslim or Christian, is our neighbor and brother as a whole. As has been the case so far, Turkey will continue to do its part for the peace and prosperity of Iraq. We also witness that Shia-Sunni relations get strained from time to time and Turkey is somehow tried to be dragged into this sectarian discussion. I hereby would like to underline once again that we see the Iraqi people as a whole, including the Shia and Sunni. We don’t differentiate between Iraqi people, whether it be Sunni-Shia Arab or Sunni-Shia Turkmen. We have one common enemy in Iraq, which is the DAESH. The helping hand we lend to Iraq for the eradication of DAESH should be assessed in this context. Therefore, I would like to express that Turkey has three priorities with regard to Iraq. The first priority is the territorial integrity, peace and security of Iraq. Second; the PKK threat arising from Iraqi lands, which we have been fighting against for years. Third, the DAESH threat that has gained new dimensions following the Mosul invasion. We support dialogue and negotiation with the Iraqi side for the resolution of these problems.

The Mosul operation concerns us as much as it concerns Iraqis. It concerns people living on our lands as much as it concerns Mosul locals. Because any mistake in Mosul might cause hundreds of thousands of people to become refugees and might disrupt the fight against DAESH as well as creating new complications. Turkey is highly concerned about reports that the PKK will participate in the Mosul operation from the Sinjar region. We conveyed and continue to convey our concerns over this issue, as well as the relevant documents and information we have, to the relevant parties, particularly to Iraqis. Turkey’s main concern with regard to the Mosul operation is to carry out it in a coordinated manner and in such a way as to protect the people of Mosul. We have no hesitation that Mosul should be liberated from the DAESH.

The Bashiqa camp was set up to help the people of Mosul fight against the DAESH and we have provided training to over 4 thousand Iraqis at this camp so far. The deployments and the enforcements we have sent to the camp are solely aimed at meeting the needs of the camp. The protection of the Bashiqa camp is of extra importance since it is close to the conflict areas. In this regard, over 700 DAESH terrorists have so far been repelled from the Bashiqa camp thanks to the resistance put up by our troops and Mosul locals that our troops trained, a point I especially would like to underscore. We have held various negations thus far with the Iraqis on the Bashiqa camp and other issues. I would like to express once again that we want to resolve our problems through negotiations from now on as well.

If we are to touch on the Syrian issue, the situation in Aleppo is unfortunately deteriorating with every passing day. Regrettably, the cessation of hostilities agreement the U.S. and Russia signed in September collapsed in less than one week. As you know, Mr. President engaged in a busy diplomacy traffic during that process, holding talks with both Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin as well as other actors. We hoped the cessation of hostilities agreement to endure longer and prevent deaths, but unfortunately this didn’t realize. At the moment there are three main issues on our agenda with regard to Syria. The first issue is to cease clashes in Aleppo and deliver humanitarian aid to the city. The second one is to create the required conditions for the political transition process; in other words, to restart the political negotiation process under the roof of the UN. Unfortunately, this process has been interrupted since May. And the third issue is the fight against the DAESH and other terrorist organizations in Syria.

A meeting will be held in Switzerland this weekend on the first issue, namely the immediate cessation of clashes and access to humanitarian aid in Aleppo. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will represent Turkey at the meeting, where Turkey will put forward various proposals. Talks and negotiations at the level of experts are currently underway. President Erdoğan and Russian President Putin discussed this issue in the margins of the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul. In Switzerland this weekend, Turkey will bring forward proposals in line with the instructions and an attempt will be made to enable access to humanitarian aid in Aleppo. We hope that these negotiations yield concrete results and a road map. We hope that clashes in Aleppo stop and locals in the city get access to humanitarian aid as soon as possible.

We are also living an important process regarding the normalization of Turkey-Russia relations within the context of Russian President Putin’s visit to Turkey on October 10. The meeting in Istanbul was the third meeting between the two leaders since the normalization process started with the exchange of letters that President Erdoğan initiated with the letter he sent on June 24. The first meeting between the two leaders took place in St. Petersburg, the second meeting in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on the sidelines of the G20 Summit and the third one in Istanbul on October 10. At the last meeting in Istanbul, Turkey and Russia reached agreement on the normalization of bilateral relations, the issue of visa, certain threats, Turkish exports to Russia, transport and other issues. Of course, the signing of the Turkish Stream project was one of the most critical topics of that visit to Istanbul. As you know, this agreement is of such importance as to change the energy map of the region. It bears great importance in terms of both our energy need and Europe’s. We are glad that this agreement has been signed. During that visit, we also had the chance to discuss in depth the issues related to Syria and the region. And finally, as I have just expressed, we will address in detail the anti-terror fight issue at a security meeting this evening. However, I especially would like to underline the unwavering determination of our state and its relevant institutes, including the Turkish Armed Forces, the Ministry of Interior, the Gendarmerie, the Police Force and the village guards, regarding the fight against the PKK.

In the wake of the attacks by the PKK, we expect the world to see the brutal face of this terrorist organization more clearly. It is incomprehensible for us that countries or authorities which make the harshest statements when it comes to the DAESH terror pass it over with very weak statements when it comes to PKK’s attacks. Because the PKK and the YPG are no different from the DAESH. Differentiating between terrorist organizations does the biggest harm to the fight against terror. We strongly condemn the attacks the PKK has lately carried out against members of the political parties. These attacks also target the politics and the national will. This reality, I hereby would like to note, should be acknowledged clearly and condemned strongly by PKK supporters in Europe.”