Idlib deal is opportunity against spread of violence by radicals: British minister
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
London warmly welcomes Sochi deal for Idlib between Ankara and Moscow UK Minister of State for the Middle East and International Development Alistair Burt said and stressed necessity measures to be taken after this agreement against radical elements in the rebel-stronghold.
The deal has two important aspects; one is for preventing humanitarian tragedy, other is an opportunity for dealing against extremists in Idlib, he said in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News.
“It would appear that an assault been averted and that provides an opportunity, safety and security for civilians which has a huge importance. What appears to be start of a process to ensure that extremists will be identified so that security process can be put in place to prevent them crossing violence in Syria or to elsewhere has been given an opportunity through the agreement as well,” he said.
Minister met with deputy Interier minister and Presidential aide İbrahim Kalın during his talks in Anara on Sept.19 and also met with NGOs working for crisis in Syria including the White Helmets which is supported by the UK.
The purpose of his visit was to convey both the government of Turkey and people for their “extraordinary commitment for dealing with the Syria crisis in sheltering 3.5 million people and providing political support for what we hope will be a resolution of crisis in Syria,” he said.
The minister noted that his visit coincided with the agreement made in Sept. 17 between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin “which has great significant some which UK warmly welcomes.”
Asked about consequences of this deal with respect to the case of foreign fighters, a delicate issue for the UK as well taking account of British citizens in radical groups in Syria, the minister drew attention two aspects of the achievements reached by Sochi deal.
One is to protect civilians from an indiscriminate assault which would cause a humanitarian disaster Burt said. The minister stressed that safety and security of nearly 3.5 million people in Idlib with a significant number of displaced persons from all over Syrian is vitally important.
“At the same time, of an equal importance that cannot be denied that there are people in Idlib of extreme nature. Protecting both Syria all the rest of us from these extreme fighters is equal importance,” he said adding that what has been agreed provides an opportunity to deal with both.
Burt underlined that during this process relevant parties should make efforts for providing alternative opportunities to people in Syria who prone to radicalism in order to keep them away from violence.
“The process of distinguishing those of an extreme nature must include the ability for states to be safeguarded against them. This will also depend on how they respond to efforts to provide them options not to continue fighting but to make a deal to ensure that they will not be violent in Syria and elsewhere. That is clearly at the heart of the decisions to be made in the near future about them.”
He stressed that it will be important for to have security and intelligence cooperation to identify people. Burt also noted that then it will be important for extremists to” take options available to them to ensure that they will not cause violence elsewhere.”
Elaborating on Turkey’s concerns about Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) over the group’s links to illegal PKK, the minister said that his government puts pressure on the Syrian Kurdish group to dissociate from the PKK.
Burt stated that the UK has prescribed the PKK as a terrorist organization.
“There are certain elements of roots of the philosophy of the YPG which share the elements of that of the PKK, he said. But equally, there are some other elements in the YPG that “distinguish itself from the PKK, the minister added.
“We have constantly press the YPG to disassociate itself fully in any element from the PKK,” Burt stated.
He noted that the two countries are allies in NATO and have common determination to face down all threats that they work on together including the PKK. That alliance is also enhances the security and intelligence relationship between Turkey and the UK, he noted.
The UK minister of state for security will pay a visit to Turkey very shortly as part of close relationship that Turkey and the UK have on security issues, Burt said.