No place for YPG in Syria solution: President Erdoğan
Fikret Bilâ - SOCHI
Ankara continues to rule out any place for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militia the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in any solution process in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated, after Turkey, Iran and Russia convened for a key summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Nov. 22.
“We discussed the issue of the Syria national dialogue congress in detail. We, as three countries, will decide on who will be invited to the congress. Sub-commissions established by our foreign ministries will make the necessary studies beforehand,” Erdoğan said, adding that chiefs of general staff and intelligence agencies will contribute if necessary.
“We project that all groups and all fractions in Syria will be invited,” he noted, while stressing that Turkey’s position on “terrorist organizations such as the YPG and the PYD is clear.”
Erdoğan suggested that “Putin shares our sensitivity about the PYD and the YPG” and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “also objects to the possibility of such an entity, as far as we can see.”
The national dialogue congress will serve for two goals: Drawing up a new constitution and running a “fair and transparent election” under the monitoring of the United Nations, he said.
“Previously, some believed that the restoration of the current constitution would be enough. But now we see that they do not bring that opinion to the agenda. The view of a new constitution has now been approved,” Erdoğan said, adding that foreign ministers, chiefs of general staff and intelligence agencies will work with a technical delegation on this issue.
All Syrians, whether inside the country or abroad, should have the right to determine their future in an election, the Turkish president said, adding that Ankara particularly raised the issues of releasing detained prisoners, clearing mines and delivering humanitarian aid at the Sochi meeting.
He said further trilateral summits in Turkey or Iran could convene going forward.
Erdoğan also repeated his criticism of the U.S. for increasing its military buildup in Syria despite efforts for resolution, complaining that the U.S. provides the YPG “not only with arms but also with personnel.”
“What are their convictions [about Syria]? What do they want to do? Let’s listen to them,” he said, adding that he could have a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the issue soon.
Erdoğan also said the Sochi meeting was very important for Turkey regarding the “Afrin issue,” in order see the position of Russia and Iran.
He said the “original residents” of Afrin have begun to return to the region and the demographic structure of the town has been normalizing, noting that the “original structure of the town consists of 50 percent Arabs, 30 percent Kurds, and the rest are Turkmens.”
“We believe that the work we have undertaken in the Astana process will accelerate the Geneva process,” he said,
Putin had informed the Turkish president about his meeting with al-Assad, Erdoğan said.
“For example, he talked about the negative view of Assad against the PYD-YPG. He mentioned that he [Assad] does not want the PYD-YPG on the [negotiation] table either. This is not so surprising,” he said.
Erdoğan distinguished between the positions of Turkey and the Syrian regime regarding the Kurds and said Ankara does not have a problem with Kurds, but with the YPG, whereas the Syrian regime does not even accept the existence of Kurds.
“It is not the same thing,” Erdoğan responded when asked whether Turkey and the Syrian regime could cooperate on the issue of the YPG.
“Turkey’s issue is not with Kurds, but with terrorist organizations. Whatever happens tomorrow is based on the circumstances. It is not appropriate to have an understanding of saying ‘no way at all.’ The doors of politics are always open until the last moment,” he said.
Erdoğan said there was “no such situation at the moment,” in regards to whether Turkey had initiated any contact with al-Assad or mediators.