Çavuşoğlu: US can’t save terrorists in Syria and Iraq
As Türkiye nears the presidential elections, counterterrorism operations in Syria and Iraq are high on the agenda. Some opposition parties pledged to end military operations in both countries, ending years of ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) policies for the effective crackdown on terrorist groups through cross-border operations.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu lashed out at the opposition over the pledge on Monday and said neither the United States nor any other country would be able to save terrorists in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. gives military equipment and training to the PKK terrorist group’s Syrian wing, the YPG, under the pretext of assistance to fight against Daesh, another terrorist group.
“Terrorists cannot be saved; We will continue targeting them. They are legitimate targets. We will not allow a terrorist state to be established (next to our borders), neither in Iraq nor in Syria,” he said in a televised interview.
On the opposition bloc’s pledge for withdrawal from Syria, Çavuşoğlu said he was sure it was “to serve to the needs of the PKK, not the need of the Assad regime,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu also spoke about a possible meeting at the level of heads of state in Syria between Ankara and the Assad regime. He said it will most likely be held this year. He said in the next stage after a recent quadrilateral meeting on Syria between Ankara, Moscow, Tehran and Damascus, “it plans to hold a meeting at the level of heads of state.” “That will very likely be done in 2023,” he added.
Regarding the upcoming foreign ministerial-level meeting on Syria in Russia’s capital Moscow, Çavuşoğlu said the talks will start Wednesday morning, and there will be bilateral talks. Iran has confirmed that it will participate at the ministerial level. “The primary purpose of this engagement is the revival of the political process. Without this process and a political solution, the conflict in the country may continue for decades,” he said. Additionally, he said this engagement is “vitally important” for Syrians in Türkiye to return to their home. Also, another agenda item of the meeting is to fight against terrorists in the region, he said, adding the fight against Daesh and YPG/PKK terrorist groups is very important for both Türkiye and Syria. He said that there are topics to be touched upon in the meeting, such as humanitarian issues, and it is necessary to cooperate with the regime on these issues.
Recalling Türkiye’s commitment to Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, he said: “Türkiye is one of the countries that most support the territorial integrity of Syria. Therefore, this issue is of vital importance to Ankara.” Stating that steps should be taken to ensure unity in Syria and joint action should be taken in this regard, he said: “Syria needs a permanent normalization, and we want to contribute to it.” Last December, the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Türkiye, Russia and the Syrian regime met in Moscow. As a result, they agreed to continue tripartite meetings to ensure stability in Syria and the wider region. Iran was also included in the talks, with Türkiye saying earlier that Ankara would be “pleased if Iran is involved in this process.”
Besides, reiterating Türkiye’s efforts toward normalization of relations with Armenia, Çavuşoğlu said they aim to take some steps toward normalization with Armenia and to contribute to the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Asked about the inauguration of the “Nemesis Monument” in the Armenian capital Yerevan, he said with the monument, Armenia once again showed that “it is not sincere in the normalization process.” According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the monument is dedicated to the perpetrators of assassinations against the Ottoman political and military leaders in the early 1920s, the Azerbaijani officials of the time, and even some Ottoman citizens of Armenian descent.
Çavuşoğlu also emphasized that it is “unacceptable to erect the statue of terrorists who martyred diplomats, Ottoman and Azerbaijani officials.” Türkiye warned Armenia that it would take “the necessary steps” if they did not remove the statue, he said.