Turkey won't change position on joining anti-ISIL coalition unless its conditions are met: President
ANKARATurkey will not alter its current position toward joining the anti-jihadist coalition unless the international community targets the Bashar al-Assad regime and moves to establish security zones and no-fly zones inside Syria, the Turkish president has said.
“[The international community] has not yet taken the steps we have recommended. There are only some signals and possibilities. Turkey’s position will continue as it is unless [our recommendations] are put in place,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters before his departure to Algeria on Nov. 19.
Turkey has long been pressing the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to also target the al-Assad regime. Establishing security zones inside Syria and creating a no-fly zone over Syrian airspace are among Turkey’s conditions before its active participation in the coalition, although Washington demands the opening of some Turkish air bases for the aerial campaign conducted by the coalition fighters.
The only deal between Turkey and the U.S. so far is to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition groups, but Erdoğan said no final step has been taken on this issue either.
“We would deceive ourselves if we only talk about training and equipping [the Syrian opposition]. We should evaluate Iraq and Syria differently. In Syria, an effort aiming to topple the al-Assad regime should be carried out,” he said, reiterating Turkey’s demand to establish security zones in Syria.
'Actions not words' over Kurdish bid
Meanwhile, touching on the stalled peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Erdoğan stressed that "disarmament" of the PKK required "action, not words."
“My wish is that steps to be taken for the disarmament will be very important for the comfort of our people and for responding to the expectations of our people from the resolution process. We are closely following developments in that regard," he said.
'Army’s view important on exempted military service'
Erdoğan was also asked about the government’s plans to exempt those who pay money from compulsory military service, saying “We cannot ignore the military’s view on this issue” and stressing that such a decision would have "negative and positive aspects." The military is believed to be in opposition to the possible step because of the poor security conditions around Turkey.
Fight against ‘parallel state’
On the fight against what he labels the “parallel state,” Erdoğan said the government was working on recent decisions made by the National Security Council (MGK). The ongoing case about the wiretapping of his working office and residence is being closely followed, he said, adding that they "will wait for the judiciary’s ruling on the matter."