Turkey tells EU to back Syria campaign

Turkey tells EU to back Syria campaign

Turkey tells EU to back Syria campaign

Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik told the 29-member block on Jan. 25 to side with Ankara in its military campaign against militants in northern Syria.

Çelik told AFP in an interview after meeting senior European Union officials in Brussels that Turkey was protecting “legitimate security interests” in its fight against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Islamic Satte of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“What we want to hear from our allies and friends is that they should say we are next to Turkey, we are sided with Turkey when it comes to fighting against terrorism and when it comes to [what is] actually happening in Afrin,” Çelik told AFP.

“We had clearly told our friends and allies they should not support YPG, and we suggested then that we should do this operation together but they did not do so,” he said.

“That’s why Turkey had to do it, and at the end of the day actually had to launch and implement this operation by itself,” Çelik said, adding that Turkey was protecting “also the security of Europe.”

Çelik was meeting EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, who said on Jan. 22 that she was “extremely worried” by the Turkish campaign. He also met European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.

The EU Minister said the campaign was called “Operation Olive Branch” because “actually we are extending an olive branch to the Syrian people and the people living in Afrin.”

Çelik also dismissed a call by French President Emmanuel Macron for Turkey to renounce its dream of membership and join a looser “partnership” with the EU.

“I have particularly underlined that we are against the recently emerging suggestions of a privileged partnership. It is not acceptable to suggest, recommend a solution other than full membership, like a privileged partnership with Turkey,” he said.

“Those who are criticizing Turkey concerning human rights and rule of law should do more than criticizing Turkey,” he added, saying that the EU should open fresh sections of the accession process dealing with those issues if it wanted to make progress.