Turkey turning its eyes to implementation of deals with US on Syria: Erdoğan
Ankara is now prioritizing the implementation of decisions made in recent meetings between the U.S. and Turkey, after heavy diplomatic traffic to address disagreements between the two sides over Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“Holding negotiations is surely valuable but we are most interested in results. Our main interest is in implementation [of the agreements] and developments in the field. In this process, the ones who need to correct their mistakes and to pull themselves together is our [U.S.] counterpart,” Erdoğan said in an address at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) provincial convention in Ankara on Feb. 18.
He stressed that Ankara wants to “resolve all problems through diplomacy and negotiations,” saying that recent developments shown that Turkey has “never hesitated to shake outstretched hands.”
The “deals” Erdoğan referred to were discussed with the U.S. during the visit of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara on Feb. 15 and 16. During Tillerson’s visit the two allies agreed to form a new “mechanism” to coordinate actions in Syria more closely going forward.
Turkey has long protested against the U.S.’s partnership with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Syrian Kurdish group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition. It has also pressed Washington to push the YPG to withdraw to the east of Euphrates from Manbij.
Turkey and members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Jan. 20 launched a military offensive against the presence of the YPG in Syria’s Afrin district.
“We’ll continue our negotiations but we’ll still continue with our operations,” Erdoğan said, in reference to the ongoing “Operation Olive Branch.”
“Minor gestures are always possible during such processes but we have no concessions to make about our ultimate objectives,” he vowed.
“A terror organization cannot be defeated through the support of another terror organization. We told them that they would be remembered notoriously because of this alliance. We also said they shouldn’t deny the weapons delivered and training given [to the YPG]. This policy should be abandoned immediately,” Erdoğan added.
“We have enough sources and capabilities to fight all kinds of terrorists, as long as no soldiers from our allied countries stand with them,” he also said.