Turkey to dispatch a team to Russia for Libya talks
A senior delegation from Ankara will soon travel to Moscow for substantial talks on the recent developments in Libya, the Turkish president said, expressing his hopes to accomplish a constructive result in a short time, after a phone exchange with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We have made an assignment (with Putin). In the framework of this assignment, a delegation composed by our deputy foreign minister, deputy defense minister and officials from the intelligence and national security will soon pay a visit to Moscow. They will discuss regional matters in substance,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a press conference in Geneva before his departure to Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 18.
“We have demanded a constructive meeting to obtain a result in a short period of time from Putin, and he told us he will issue a similar task. We have agreed that our teams will discuss both Libya and Syria,” he added.
Erdoğan and Putin held a phone conversation on Dec. 17 and discussed mainly Libya and Syria, particularly after Turkey signed two memoranda of understanding with the Libya’s U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) under the leadership of Prime Minister Mustafa Fayez al-Sarraj.
Turkey and Russia are on opposite pages in Libya as the latter supports Tobruk-based General Khalifa Hafter forces who launched a major offensive against the Tripoli-based al-Sarraj government.
Libya deal complies with int’l law
On questions, President Erdoğan underlined that the deals with Libya do comply with the international law and that the government is working on some additional measures which will be announced in due course.
Germany invites Turkey to Libya meeting
Turkey’s deal with the Tripoli has changed the flow of developments in the Libyan theater where foreign powers like Russia, Egypt and United Arab Emirates have lent military support to Hafter forces, Erdoğan said. “Does Hafter have an international recognition? No. No one does, even the Berlin Process does not acknowledge him.”
Erdoğan recalled that he had a phone call with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on Dec. 16 in which she has extended an invitation to Turkey to participate in a meeting that will take place on Libya in Berlin.
Merkel has suggested the participation of Algeria, Tunisia and Qatar to the Berlin meeting, Erdoğan said, “The Libyan people do have confidence on these countries. If they would take part in this process, the Libyan people would express their belief. Mr. Putin is of the same opinion. We will therefore decide who would attend from us after we’ll see who will attend the meeting,” he added.
Turkish UAVs in Turkish Cyprus
On a deal between Ankara and Nicosia for the deployment of Turkish armed drones in Turkish Cyprus to a more efficient surveillance of ongoing drilling activities in the eastern Meditarrenean, Erdoğan informed that the number of drones may be increased in the future.
“Everyting may change depending our needs,” Erdoğan said, attaching importance of the role these drones will play in the region. “This process will continue at the same speed.”
Cooperaiton with Israel not on agenda
On a question whether cooperation might be launched with all littoral countries for the hydrocarbon activities, particularly with Israel, Erdoğan replied “The issue of Israel has never come to our agenda. It would be meaningless to bring it to our agenda as it’s not on our agenda.”
Refugee settlements may make history
On a question about ongoing talks for the return of Syrian refugees to a safe zone in the northeastern Syria, Erdoğan said all his interlocutors, including the Americans and Russians, express solidarity but without yet concrete support.
“If we can materialize this, it will make history as an example. ‘Turks have constructed city or cities for refugees,’ they will say. This is very important for us. Our project is very good. There would be those who would like to take part (in this project) after we take concrete steps. We will continue to invite them,” he stated.
CHP’s call for restraint on ties with US
President Erdoğan also responded to questions on the opposition’s criticisms with regards to the government’s plans to deploy troops to Libya and the ongoing row with the U.S.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has urged the government to engage in healthy dialogue with the U.S. instead of threatening it to shut down military installations on its soils, like the Incirlik base and radar site in Kürecik.
“There is a government that is taking all of its steps in a very careful way. Either İncirlik or Kürecik, or both of them… If you respect to the values of this country, if you want to contribute to the future of this country, then you should better think when to call us to restraint,” he said. “Otherwise, we perfectly know where to move with restraint, where to act decisively.”
Canal Istanbul to protect Bosphorus
On an ongoing discussion about the Canal Istanbul, an artificial seaway project aiming to link the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea, Erdoğan defied criticisms that it would cause irreversible damage on the environment and natural balance between the two seas which have completely different ecological systems.
“Look at the Canal Istanbul (project) through the methodology of communicating vessels: Salty water and less salty water. What comes out when these two come together? An average of it. What is the salt level of the Black Sea? What is the salt level of Marmara? This issue should be evaluated from this point of view,” he said.
The project will remove environmental risks along the Bosphorus and will give Turkey the right to control the passages from the Canal Istanbul like the Suez Canal. “There is no any right pledged to us through the Montreux (Convention). Vessels pass (from the straits) at their will. Think about it. They use your Bosphorus but you gain nothing out of it,” he said.