Turkey against PYD, not Syrian Kurds, says PM Davutoğlu
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Still image from Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Jan. 25, 2016.Syrian Kurds need to be a part of the peace process to end the civil war, but those treating the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a legitimate partner “do not live in the reality of the region,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Jan. 25.
“Without Syrian Kurds, the table cannot be complete. What we are against is the YPG,” Davutoğlu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, referring to the People’s Protection Units, the armed wing of the PYD. The Syrian Kurdish group is an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist-designated organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
“Those who are recognizing them as a legitimate partner, they do not live in the reality of the region,” said Davutoğlu. “Nobody can convince us that [the PYD] is for peace.”
The Turkish prime minister’s remarks came ahead of new Syria peace talks set to begin on Jan. 29 in Geneva.
The talks were initially scheduled to start on Jan. 25 but were delayed by disagreements about which opposition factions would participate in the negotiation process with the representatives of the Syrian regime forces.
Davutoğlu held firm that the Syrian crisis would not be resolved with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, adding that regime forces were “not winning.”
“No Syrian will go back if al-Assad continues to sit in Damascus,” said Davutoğlu, adding this was the criteria of peace for Turkey.
On Russia’s role in the conflict, Davutoğlu said Russia was intervening “in a very negative manner, in fact occupying Syria.”
As one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Russia, “like others, can contribute to the peace process,” he said, “but we expect Russia to respect Syrian civilians and... not to push Syrian civilians towards the Turkish border.”
He said 90 percent of Russian airstrikes in Syria had so far targeted civilians and moderate opposition groups, as well as schools and hospitals.
“We know this, because all those who were injured by Russian bombardment are escaping to Turkey,” he said. “Only 10 percent of Russian airstrikes are against Daesh,” Davutoğlu said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which controls swaths of land in Syria and Iraq.
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by Russian airstrikes that began Sept. 30, 2015, to prop up the regime forces, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The civil war, which will enter its sixth year in March, has left more than 250,000 victims dead and made the country the world’s single largest source of refugees and displaced persons, according to U.N. figures.
Neighboring Turkey, which is now the largest refugee hosting country in the world, has spent nearly $8 billion caring for more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees on its soil.