Turkey’s top commander visits Germany with heavy agenda
ANKARAThe chief commander of the Turkish Armed Forces has paid an official visit to Germany amid a heavy agenda due to ongoing challenges in Turkey’s region.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar held talks with both German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces Volker Wieker, the Turkish General Staff said on March 3. Akar had departed Turkey for Germany on March 1, upon an invitation from his German counterpart.
Military sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that discussion focused on threats posed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as well as NATO’s ongoing mission in the Aegean Sea aimed at slowing irregular migration and combatting human smuggling, and bilateral military cooperation between the two NATO allies.
The NATO mission to monitor smugglers was first announced by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Feb. 8 in Ankara. Under the plan, NATO forces are conducting reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance to provide information to Greece, Turkey and the EU’s border agency Frontex so that they - not the alliance - can deal with the traffickers.
Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition cast doubt on March 2 on whether U.N.-backed peace talks would go ahead on March 9 as planned, as rebels said they were under fierce government attack near the Turkish border despite a cessation of hostilities agreement.
Turkey, for its part, says it has not shelled any positions held by Syrian Kurdish fighters inside Syria since the ceasefire was implemented last week.