Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Nowadays, the hardest challenges European countries confront are fighting against terrorist organizations such as DAESH and the management of migration flows. Turkey continues to hold an essential role within the context of international efforts in overcoming these challenges.
It is Turkey, who has enabled the European Union (EU) to regulate the Syrian migration flow. Turkey has not only hosted three and a half million Syrian refugees, but also saved the lives of thousands of people by halting their risky attempts to get across the Aegean Sea in order to reach Western Europe.
Turkey is one of the first countries to recognize DAESH as a terrorist organization. Moreover, our country is a member of the International Coalition, established to counter DAESH.
Whereas some Western countries have not been able to control even the transiting of jihadists through their airports, Turkey has denied the entry of more than four thousand suspected travelers on her territory; deported almost six thousand terrorists; arrested more than ten thousand DAESH and Al-Qaida members; and exerted great efforts to ensure the security of her 911 kilometers long land border with Syria.
While other coalition members have not gone beyond a very symbolic presence on the field, only Turkey has fought with her land forces against DAESH alongside with the Free Syrian Army since 2016.
Operation “Euphrates Shield” is an exceptional -even unique- operation to serve as a model in this respect, which was directed by the Turkish Army and ensured the liberation of Jarabulus, Al-Bab and surrounding cities, as well as the peaceful return of hundreds of thousands of Syrians back home.
In that case, could we say that Turkey, against which the Europeans lean their back in terms of their security, is understood correctly? Could we say that our country’s actions are conveyed correctly and that they are appreciated? Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Anti-Turkey discourse prevalent in the West today, is a partial reflection of the increase in xenophobia and Islamophobia, which are fed by Western extremists’ instrumentalization of migrant flows.
Furthermore, some unscrupulous politicians, with the goal of satisfying their voters, have tried to conceal their anti-Muslim and xenophobic messages, disguised as their “political truthfulness” in their opposition against Turkey’s EU accession.
This discourse also stems from those underestimating threats faced by Turkey in recent years, and blaming its leaders of becoming authoritarian, and violating individual rights in an unfounded way. However, which European country could have further respected these rights in the face of violent acts by terrorist organizations such as DAESH and PKK/PYD/YPG that have taken control of the frontier areas; the bloody coup attempt by Fethullah Gülen and his terrorist organization on 15 July 2016; the threats and challenges Turkey has faced, such as the economic and social burden of Syrian refugees at Turkish taxpayers’ expense?
Actually, no country except for Turkey could have better dealt with such various challenges simultaneously.
Turkey, which is a founding member of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. This Convention guarantees that individual rights of all citizens are respected by also the Turkish Justice as in other European countries. Accordingly, no one could allege that these rights are less respected in Turkey than in any other country in Europe.
Thanks to its determination, Turkey today manages to prevent terrorist organizations such as DAESH or PKK/PYD/YPG from taking any action on her territory. Advances recorded in the fight against FETO will soon allow the Turkish Government to lift the state of emergency.
One can recall that it took seven hundred and nineteen days to end the state of emergency in France.
Today, Turkey enjoys a sound political stability and has the highest economic growth rate among European countries. Turkey, welcoming nearly forty million tourists each year, also continues to be one of the world’s safest tourist destinations.
Turkey’s priority, as a country exerting every effort in finding a political solution in Syria, is to eliminate any terrorist presence on her border with this country, which also constitutes the border of Europe and NATO with the Middle East.
Operation “Olive Branch” conducted in Afrin against the PKK/PYD/YPG and their associate DAESH, will therefore continue until this goal is fully achieved.
At all costs, Turkey will not allow this terrorist organization to occupy Syrian territory on her borderline and will do her best to demonstrate the gravity of their mistake to her allies who falsely think that using PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists as mercenaries in their so-called fight against DAESH is a good idea.
Our allies will realize that Turkey is, and will remain, their best ally for the security of Europe and the region. /// nCa [French version of this article was published by Le Monde on 20 March 2018]