Turkey dismisses French remarks on Syria campaign as ‘insults,’ calls Europeans ‘two-faced’

Turkey dismisses French remarks on Syria campaign as ‘insults,’ calls Europeans ‘two-faced’

Turkey dismisses French remarks on Syria campaign as ‘insults,’ calls Europeans ‘two-faced’

Turkey has dismissed France’s cautionary remarks about its military operation in Syria’s northern district of Afrin as “insults.”

“We consider remarks about an operation we are carrying out in accordance with international law to be insults, especially coming from a country such as France,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Feb. 1.

“Unfortunately, these Europeans are two-faced, I say this generally, when they talk to our face, they say, ‘you are right, your right to self-defense, your security is important.’ Then they say something else behind your back,” Çavuşoğlu stated.

“We are using our right to self-defense, in line with the U.N. Security Council decisions. This is not an invasion. They shouldn’t be two-faced,” he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron had warned Turkey on Jan. 31 that the operation in the northern Afrin district should not become an excuse to “invade” Syria and that he wanted Ankara to coordinate its actions with its allies.

Çavuşoğlu also said Syrian peace talks in Geneva should be revived, adding that the Syrian government needed to start negotiating for this to happen. His comments came after a Russian-sponsored conference on reaching peace in Syria was held this week in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Turkey, Iran and Russia each submitted three lists of 50 names for the constitutional committee, which will begin its work in Geneva, he said.

The talks, which Russia has called the Syrian Congress on National Dialogue, ended on Jan. 31 with a statement that called for democratic elections but ignored key opposition demands, after a day marred by squabbles and heckling of the Russian foreign minister.

Turkey launched the air and ground offensive, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” nearly two weeks ago to target the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin. But the incursion has put pressure on relations with the West, particularly the U.S., which backs the Kurdish fighters and has its own troops on the ground supporting them in other parts of Syria.

France, like the U.S., has extended arms and training to a YPG-led militia in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. This has infuriated Turkey, which considers the YPG terrorists and the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).