Countries backing terror groups won’t be in NATO: Erdoğan
Turkey won’t approve of the joining of the countries that are supporting terrorist organizations to NATO, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, informing that Ankara’s first talks with the NATO-aspirant Swedish and Finnish delegations were unsatisfactory.
“The talks our delegation has conducted with the Swedish and Finnish delegations were unfortunately not at the level we were expecting. They have expectations [from Turkey] but as they don’t take necessary steps, they are still allowing the terrorists to freely walk in the streets of Stockholm and provide security to them with their police,” Erdoğan told the reporters on his return from Azerbaijan over the weekend.
Erdoğan referred to a meeting between Turkish, Swedish and Finnish diplomats last week over the two Nordic states’ appeal to join the alliance. Turkey criticizes both countries over their links with the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG.
“As long as Erdoğan rules Turkey, we won’t say yes to the entry of countries that support terror in NATO.”
On the same day the talks were held in Ankara, the state TV of Sweden interviewed a leading YPG member, Salih Muslim, the president said. “They are not honest or sincere. We cannot repeat the same mistake we did in the past towards these countries that shelter and feed these terrorists. What was that mistake? In the past, Greece had quit NATO and a Turkish government then allowed Greece to return,” he said, referring to a decision taken by Turkey in 1980.
Greece now has nine military bases, and they are against Turkey and not against Russia as some Greek officials claim, Erdoğan stated, repeating his criticisms against Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for calling on the United States Congress not to approve the sale of F-16s to Turkey.
“Did we suspend the High-Level Strategic Council meeting with Greece? Did we announce it? What does it mean? It means ‘Hey Greece, pull yourself together,’” he said, repeating that Mitsotakis no longer exists for him. “There is only one thing we do: We are friends with those who are friends with us. But we do whatever necessary against those who see us as an enemy,” he said.
On the Ukraine war, Erdoğan said he will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on the phone about an end to the armed conflict.
Turkey won’t seek US consent for Syria operation
On a question about a potential military offensive into northern Syria to eliminate the presence of the YPG, Erdoğan stressed that the attacks by the terror group from these regions cannot be unanswered.
“There are deployment areas of the terrorist organizations all along the north of Syria, from northeast to northwest. Unfortunately, all [anti-ISIL] coalition forces, especially the U.S., continue to provide weapons, tools, equipment and ammunition to these terrorist organizations,” Erdoğan stated, adding they also train the YPG.
“Now, while these facts stand out, are we still ignoring them? Just as we have operations against the PKK and its associates in northern Iraq, the same situation is much more valid, much more important for Syria,” the president said. Turkey is obliged to eliminate the terrorists and is committed to wiping them out, he added.
On a question about the contacts with Washington on the potential Turkish operation, Erdoğan urged the U.S. to do its part in the fight against terrorism. “If America does not fulfill its duty in the fight against terrorism, what will we do? We’ll take care of it ourselves. It is not possible to fight against terrorism by obtaining permission from somewhere,” he stressed.
Israel positive for energy cooperation with Turkey
Erdoğan also responded to a question about whether Israel gives the green light for constructing a pipeline to carry the natural gas of the eastern Mediterranean to the world markets via Turkey.
According to the information provided by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from Israel where he had talks with the Israeli government, Tel Aviv has expressed its willingness to cooperate with Turkey on natural gas.
“At the moment, the prospect on the subject is positive. It is my hope that we will quickly accomplish the process,” he stated, informing that the energy ministers of the two sides will discuss the matter.