Turkey, EU in fresh spat over Syria operation
Turkey and the EU have engaged in a fresh row over the former’s ongoing military operation into the Syrian province of Afrin, while the latter has urged Ankara that opening new fronts in this country will not contribute to efforts for finding a political solution.
“Opening new fronts [in Syria] is not a solution and I am afraid this will not make Turkey more secure. Real security can only be achieved through a negotiated political solution. We are of the opinion that military operations should focus on the fight against the terrorist organizations listed by the United Nations,” Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy said during a special meeting at the European Parliament late on Feb. 6.
She also expressed the EU’s concerns that the ongoing Afrin operation could negatively affect efforts for a political solution and could trigger a humanitarian crisis in Syria, while also acknowledging Turkey’s right to protect its borders.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” into Afrin on Jan. 20 to clear the area from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), based on the U.N. Charter and relevant Security Council decisions.
Turkey, however, expressed disappointment because it did not received the support it had been seeking from its Western partners.
“I should openly express that we have not received the approach we were expecting,” EU Minister Ömer Çelik told reporters Feb. 7.
“Turkey of course is fighting terrorist organizations on the U.N. list. But should we give up fighting against the YPG—who carries out attacks on our borders—because it is designated as a terrorist band?” said Çelik, condemning Mogherini’s statement that military operations should focus on U.N.-listed terrorist organizations.
“The YPG is equal to the PKK. It is a terrorist organization,” he said.