EU’s Tusk condemns PKK and attacks against media, HDP
AFP photoEuropean Union Council President Donald Tusk has condemned the deadly attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while also voicing concern over the recent attacks on daily Hürriyet as well as the bureaus of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“We discussed terrorism, where I reiterated my condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks here in Turkey. And where I assured the PM [Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu], as I did to the President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] yesterday, of Europe’s continued strong commitment to fighting terrorism, from PKK to Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL],” visiting Tusk said at a joint press conference following his meeting with Davutoğlu in Ankara on Sept. 10.
“When we discussed the terrorist threat from the PKK, I also stressed how important it is to get the Kurdish peace process back on track,” Tusk added.
The top EU official held a meeting with Erdoğan on Sept. 9, which was also followed by a joint press conference.
“I am also worried about the attacks against the Peoples’ Democratic Party headquarters and the Hürriyet newspaper,” said Tusk at the press conference with Erdoğan, adding he hoped “trust will again be restored and the rule of law will prevail.”
“Terrorism, wherever it takes place, whoever it targets and whoever bears the responsibility for it, must be strongly condemned. We are also confronted with terrorist threats in the European Union. Let me reassure you that the European Union wants to cooperate closely with Turkey against terrorism. We continue to be committed to the fight against the PKK’s presence in Europe,” he said.
Tusk said the now-collapsed ceasefire reached between Turkey and the PKK in 2013 was received with “hope and relief” by all EU countries. “We continue to believe that this was the right choice. In fact there is no reasonable alternative,” he said.
‘Let’s work together to solve migration problem’
The president of the European Union Council emphasized the real reason he was in Turkey was the growing migrant crisis, and he called on all countries to avoid a “blame game” and to focus on full and comprehensive cooperation.
“I have come to Ankara because I believe that Turkey can play a key role in bringing stability back to the region, especially in Syria. This demands full determination in fighting terrorism in every form. There won’t be any stability as long as the cards are dealt by Daesh and as long as the cards are dealt by the smugglers and human traffickers,” Tusk said.
“Today I want to declare that the EU is determined to act stronger than ever before. Our cooperation with Turkey on this is our top priority. We should look for answers to the most pressing issue, not only in the EU but also in the region where the sources of this crisis lie,” he added.
In remarks delivered on Sept. 10, Tusk revisited the Syrian refugee crisis.
“All are challenges that none of us can handle alone; where we are bound to cooperate. That is why I have come to Ankara at this particular point in time. Not to lecture. And not to be lectured. But to assess the situation together with you and identify areas where our cooperation can be further strengthened. The EU and Turkey are already doing a lot together, but we both agree that more will be needed. On both sides,” Tusk said.
“I am confident that we can succeed. We are building on an already strong EU-Turkey partnership. Apart from advancing on migration, we could do more together in areas such as foreign policy, economic and trade relations, counter-terrorism, mobility and energy cooperation. And I think we should.”
Turkey supports refugee quotas
For his part, Erdoğan repeated that around two millions refugees from Syria and Iraq were currently in Turkey. The total cost to the country’s economy had already reached $6.5 billion, of which only $417 million was received from international donors.
“We should now admit that this is no longer sustainable. I should emphasize our expectation to be included in ongoing discussions in Europe on how the burden could be shared on a fair basis. We want to be approached not as a third party but as a participatory [EU membership] candidate country,” Erdoğan said.
He also said Ankara supported the idea of imposing compulsory refugee quotas on EU countries.