Turkey lashes out at France over support for YPG in Syria
Turkey has slammed its NATO ally France for voicing support to the Syrian Kurdish groups and offering to mediate between the Turkish government and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan describing Paris’ move as a “show of hostility against Turkey.”
“Those who host at the highest level the members of a terrorist organization, which has been freely carrying out its activities in their countries, should be aware that this is nothing but an expression of hostility against Turkey,” Erdoğan said on March 30, condemning French President Emmanuel Macron’s reception of members of Syrian Kurdish groups at the Elysée Palace.
France no longer has the right to complain about the actions of any terror organization on its soil after meeting with the representatives of the PYD and its armed wing, the People Protection Units (YPG), Erdoğan added.
“Those who have been abetting terrorists and who have been hosting them in their palaces will sooner or later see the mistake they have made. They may face the problems that we ourselves have been experiencing at any time. We hope they will not dare to seek our help when France is filled with terrorists fleeing from Syria and Iraq after being encouraged by French policies,” he said.
French President Macron, who has repeatedly voiced criticism of Ankara’s military operation into the northern Syrian district of Afrin, met a group of representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Paris on March 29. A statement issued by his office underlined France’s support to the SDF while offering “mediation” between Turkey and the group.
Turkey regards the SDF as simply a differently named version of the YPG, which has partnered with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Erdoğan stated that Turkey “will not be fooled” by suggestions that the SDF is a separate entity from the YPG.
“Turkey needs no mediator … You can come together with terror organizations around the same table but Turkey deals with terror organizations just like it did in Afrin,” he stressed.
Citing his most recent phone conversation with Macron last week, Erdoğan said he had to raise his voice because the French president was speaking “strangely” about Turkey’s operations in Syria.
Çavuşoğlu speaks with French FM
The Turkish government also voiced its disturbance with Macron’s support to the SDF through a phone call by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to his counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian early on March 30.
“The reception of a terror organization at the highest level is an indication of the double-standards of France on the fight against terrorism,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the YPG and the PKK are the “same entities” and are “responsible for killing nearly 40,000 people in Turkey.”
“The French proposal for mediation between us and terrorists is unacceptable. France has a tradition of trying to adopt a role for itself and seeking mediation on all issues. From where you find this right to offer mediation? Who are you to be a mediator? A country that wants to be a mediator needs at least to be honest, credible and impartial. It’s not possible to argue that a country that hosts the YPG at the Elysée Palace is an impartial one. You are siding with terrorists,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ said Macron’s move had set Paris on a collision course with Ankara.
“Those who enter into cooperation and solidarity with terror groups against Turkey ... will, like the terrorists, become a target of Turkey. We hope France does not take such an irrational step,” Bozdağ tweeted.
Likewise, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also rejected Macron’s offer to mediate between the Turkish government and the SDF.
“Turkey’s position on the PKK/PYD/YPG, which seeks to legitimize itself as the SDF, is perfectly clear. We reject any efforts to promote ‘dialogue,’ ‘contact’ or ‘mediation’ between Turkey and those terrorist organizations,” Kalın said through his Twitter account early on March 30.