Turkey disagrees with US, Russia, Iran on Syria: Erdoğan

Turkey disagrees with US, Russia, Iran on Syria: Erdoğan

Akif Beki
Turkey disagrees with US, Russia, Iran on Syria: Erdoğan

Turkish President Erdoğan criticized both the PKK and HDP while speaking to representatives of several media outlets onboard his presidential jet while returning from Estonia on Oct. 25.

Turkey disagrees with the United States, Russia and Iran separately over their stances on Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told media representatives onboard his presidential jet returning to Turkey from Estonia on Oct. 25.

“Unfortunately, we disagree with Russia over the Syria issue. We have talked about this many times, but we have wasted time despite our meetings. Russia continues to support [the Syrian regime]. Apart from this issue, our economic relations [with Russia] are very good,” Erdoğan said, also acknowledging that Turkey and Iran have considerably different stances on the Syria crisis.

He expressed his dissatisfaction that the actions of the U.S. in Syria have “had no positive effects” on Turkey’s expectations.

“The U.S. has not taken any stance on the declaration of a no-fly zone in the area. It just says the safe zone is discussable. It has taken action on training and arming, but I do not consider dropping arms from the air to be part of the training and arming process; it is arming without any training. So, what’s being done here does not have any positive effects on our expectations for the actions against the [Syrian] regime,” he said.

Touching on disagreements with Iran, Erdoğan said the two countries could not work together on the Syria issue despite the promises made in bilateral meetings, also questioning Tehran’s “sincerity.”

“When we have bilateral meetings with Iran, they agree on ‘solving this issue together.’ When it comes to taking action on this issue, unfortunately, they have their own way of working and they work in that way. This is very saddening. This is why we cannot find comfortable ground to work with Iran,” he said, suggesting that Iran’s tendency to hold a “sectarian stance” in the region makes it harder for Turkey to cooperate with it.  

“Recently, Iran’s activity in the region is in a very different position. Actions continue in Iraq and Syria, but unfortunately these [actions] are not being done with a sincere approach. [We call on Iran], ‘Let’s solve this issue together as Turkey and Iran.’ I said this when I was prime minister and I say this as president. Unfortunately, Iran has not held such an approach,” Erdoğan added.

Following a question about why the Syrian town of Kobane has become so critical in the international arena, the president said “a game is being played on Turkey’s borders.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the Kurdish issue, Erdoğan said neither the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) nor “its extension” the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were happy with the ongoing peace process, suggesting it threatens their bargaining power.

“People in southeastern Turkey are pleased with this [peace process], but the terrorist organization [PKK] is not. Its extension [the HDP] is not happy either, because they had been using the [Kurdish issue] as a bargaining chip,” he said.

He also argued that the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence at the İmralı Island prison and who is the state’s main interlocutor in the process, was unhappy with the PKK and the HDP’s stance and had therefore issued a statement warning them not to damage the peace process.

Speaking after three off-duty Turkish soldiers were shot dead in the street in the southeastern province of Hakkari, Erdoğan said such attacks were connected to the PKK’s discontent with the peace process.

“All of these [attacks] are about this. They are attempts to prevent the peace process. The PKK does not want peace in Turkey. The political party that is an extension of the PKK [the HDP] does not want peace either. That is as clear as two plus two equals four,” he said.