ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
A handout picture taken and released on January 23, 2016 by the Turkish Presidential Press Office shows US Vice President Joe Biden (L) shaking hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a meeting in Istanbul. / AFP / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE / KAYHAN ÖZER
Conducting terrorist propaganda is beyond the limits of free speech, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
has stressed during a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a day after the latter emphasized the need for freedom of speech and press in Turkey in an address to NGOs and reporters.
During the 2.5-hour meeting in Istanbul’s Yıldız Palace, Erdoğan reportedly called for more “sensitivity” from ally countries in Turkey’s “fight against terror,” and asked that they avoid statements in support of groups that “try to undermine” Turkey’s efforts.
Turkey is “a state under the rule of law” and conducting terror propaganda or supporting acts of terrorism cannot be evaluated within the limits of freedom of opinion, the president said.
On Jan. 22, Biden told NGO representatives and reporters that he backed a group of academics who are under fire after signing a petition calling for an end to Turkey’s military operations in a number of southeastern provinces.
“When Internet freedom is curtailed and social media sites like YouTube or Twitter are shut down and more than 1,000 academics are accused of treason simply for signing a petition, that’s not the kind of example that needs to be set in the region,” Biden said.
Reports indicate Biden and Erdoğan also discussed bilateral and regional affairs, especially the situation in Syria and Iraq.
During the meeting, Erdoğan said Turkey’s efforts in the controversial training camp in the Bashiqa region in northern Iraq aimed at reinforcing local forces.
Biden recently discussed Bashiqa with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, underlining the U.S.’ “respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
While Erdoğan underlined that Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Defense Units (YPG) as terrorist organizations, just like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), Biden reportedly reiterated that the U.S. only considers the PKK
a terrorist organization.