Russia understands Turkey’s stance on YPG better than US: Turkish FM
ANKARARussia understands Turkey’s stance on the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) better than the United States does, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, while also voicing Ankara’s dissatisfaction on the U.S. decision to arm the group.
Speaking to Turkey’s state-run broadcaster TRT Haber on Aug. 16, Çavuşoğlu said Russia did not send any weapons to the YPG.
Washington is arming YPG forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, alarming their NATO ally Turkey, who regards them as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey has repeatedly asked the U.S. to cut their ties with the YPG. Turkey considers the YPG as a terrorist group and the Turkish military has hit YPG positions inside Syria on various occasions.
The U.S. and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group, but not the YPG.
Saying that Turkey acts jointly with its allies in Syria against ISIL, Çavuşoğlu noted the U.S. move on giving weapons to the YPG creates “serious danger for the future of Syria and Turkey.”
“The fact that the U.S., which is one of our allies, gives weapons to the YPG is a threat and danger for Syria’s future. It also poses a serious threat and danger for our own security. Turkey will fight with this threat,” he said.
During his speech, Çavuşoğlu said Washington sends annual reports on the weapons it sent to the YPG. According to the latest report, the U.S. did not send weapons and ammunition, but did send armored vehicles and equipment to the group.
“It is important that the U.S. provides Turkey with this information,” the minister also said.
“However, the actual issue is not giving weapons. Will you [the U.S.] be able to get those weapons back? There is a huge question mark there,” he said.
“When we look at the territorial integrity of Syria, meaning the overall problem, what does the strengthening of elements like the YPG mean for the future of Syria? Do we support and want Syria’s border and territorial integrity? Strengthening these terrorist groups endanger Syria’s future,” he also said.
Moreover, Çavuşoğlu also added Turkey is trying to keep the Astana process alive.
“The most important role of the Astana process is to stop the clashes on the ground and make sure that deconflict zones emerge. We have reached agreements on that,” he said. Technical talks on the issue have been ongoing.
The minister said Russia, the U.S., and Jordan have reached an agreement regarding Syria’s southwest, while Russia has been observing ceasefire violations in Eastern Ghouta and Homs.
Çavuşoğlu further said that talks regarding Idlib have been ongoing, adding the issue bears major significance for Turkey.
Turkey, Iran, and Russia agreed in May to set up “de-escalation zones” in Syria to try to stem the fighting in some parts of the country, including the northern province of Idlib, which borders Turkey and has since been overrun by jihadists linked to a former al-Qaeda affiliate.
During his speech, the minister said Russian Chief of Armed Forces Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov will visit Turkey to discuss the situation in Idlib, while trilateral talks between Turkey, Russia, and Iran are also ongoing.