US support to YPG imperils Turkey's security: Çavuşoğlu
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
Ongoing United States military support for Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) / People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants not only jeopardizes Turkey’s security but also poisons the long-standing bilateral partnership between Washington and Ankara, Turkey’s top diplomat recently told a foreign magazine.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's remarks came last month in an exclusive interview with the Canadian-based, Ottawa Life Magazine, in Canada, where he attended The Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Çavuşoğlu said the U.S. and Turkey are in a delicate period because Ankara and Washington hold different views on important issues, including PYD/YPG militants in Syria and the presence of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) in the U.S.
"As a NATO ally, Turkey rightly asks the U.S. to prioritize Turkey’s vital security concerns over the U.S.’s short-term tactical policy goals,” he said.
"However, Turkey and the U.S. are long-standing allies, and our relations are time-tested."
While highlighting the importance of Turkish-American cooperation for bilateral relations and the future of the region, Çavuşoglu said Ankara continues high-level contacts with Washington and believes it is important to keep communication channels open.
"We need to focus on a positive agenda from which both sides can benefit. Enhancing economic relations is also a priority for both sides," he said, noting his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Vancouver regarding current difficulties in bilateral relation and Turkey's expectations from the U.S.
"We would like to increase our bilateral trade volume [17.5 billion dollars in 2016] and encourage mutual investments."
As the carnage and war in Syria appears to be winding down, Çavuşoğlu was reluctant to make any definitive comments about that outlook for 2018 but said that nation’s future would be determined by Syrians.
"During the last seven years of conflict, which started with peaceful protests and then flamed into a civil war, the people of Syria have made their choice clear," he said.
"They aspire for democracy, freedom, equality, and rule of law. The record of [Bashar] Assad counters these aspirations. History tells us that the will of the people prevails eventually," and he said Turkey would continue its "intense efforts" to ensure talks in Astana, Sochi and Geneva yield concrete results so that 2018 would be the final year of conflict.
Along with ensuring lasting and credible political solutions to the conflict, Çavuşoğlu said the goal would not be reached unless the international community helps rebuild Syria’s infrastructure, facilitate the return of refugees and those displaced, and provide economic aid.
"In brief, the international community should contribute to saving the future generations of Syria," he said.
Regarding Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) referendum in Iraq last year, Çavuşoğlu said Ankara opposed the vote only to ensure Iraq’s territorial integrity and help sustain regional stability.
"Preserving Iraq’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity is vital for Turkey. These principles are also critical for regional peace and stability," he said.
"In line with this understanding, we opposed the KRG referendum, and the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court’s recent rulings have proven us right. In coordination with the Iraqi Federal Government, we adopted some measures against the KRG."
Shortly after the vote, considered illegal by Turkey and other regional and global observers, the court ruled in favor of Iraqi territorial integrity. It also said the Kurds should relinquish control of its areas to the Iraqi government.