German FM says Turkey is key partner in NATO

German FM says Turkey is key partner in NATO

ANKARA-Anadoly Agency
German FM says Turkey is key partner in NATO

Germany on Nov. 20 underlined Turkey's importance as a NATO member, urging continued dialogue on Ankara's anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

"It is in our interest that Turkey, which is also a key partner in NATO, would not move away from Europe," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in an interview with news portal DELFI, ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Maas underlined NATO's role as Europe's primary security guarantor.

"NATO is the most successful security alliance in history. It has been the guarantor of Euro-Atlantic security over the past 70 years, and will continue as such," he said.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate all terrorist groups from northeastern Syria and create a safe zone along the border, thereby paving the way for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

Several NATO members, including the U.S., France and Germany, criticized the operation, expressing concerns over a potential humanitarian crisis and wider instability in the region.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed its determination to clear northern Syria of both ISIL and YPG/PKK terrorist groups.

The U.S.-backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border.

Turkey deems the YPG the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the EU.