Candid views on relations with Turkmenistan, situation at Turkish-Syria border
Turkey is determined to steer the situation at the Turkish-Syrian border to its logical conclusion, and has the full capacity to do so.
This was said by Ibrahim Aydemir, AK Party’s Erzurum MP, the Co-Chairman of the Turkish-Turkmen Joint Parliamentary Friendship Group and member of the Plan and Budget Commission of the Turkish Parliament, in an exclusive conversation with nCa on 19 October, Saturday.
Accompanied by a group of five parliamentarians, Turkish MP Aydemir visited Turkmenistan on 18-21 October.
Aydemir also praised the thriving relations with Turkmenistan and expressed the confidence that it can be cemented further.
Here is the summarized version of his conversation with nCa, lightly edited for clarity:
On relations with Turkmenistan
[In our meeting with the Speaker of the Turkmen Parliament, Ms. Gulshat Mammedova, and Mr. Yusupkulu Essayev, Co-Chairman of the Turkmen-Turkish Joint Parliamentary Friendship Group] we discussed the parliamentary relations. We also discussed some issues of joint interest to strengthen our relations.
Our meeting continued for more than two hours, in which we discussed a wide range of issues and informed them about the situation in Turkey.
We talked of the Turkish-Turkmen relations and what can be done to strengthen and improve them further.
We also stressed the vitality of bilateral economic ties.
Moreover, we discussed cooperation on education. We proposed that we would like to have joint partnership in education.
We also underlined that we would like to extend our cooperation to other areas.
Most importantly, we conveyed the messages and the letter of the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Mr. Mustafa Şentop, addressed to the Speaker of the Turkmen Parliament. We conveyed our respect and greetings to the Honourable President of Turkmenistan.
The Turkmen side welcomed us with open arms.
Every side, every aspect of Turkmenistan is beautiful.
Today (19 October 2019) we visited all the museums and important places in Ashgabat. I very much liked the horses, the carpet museum, and the national museum.
As the Turkish-Turkmen Joint Parliamentary Friendship Group, our aim is to further improve the bilateral relations to a new level.
Our visit was very fruitful. It made us very happy and when we return we will convey our impressions to Ankara.
We would also like to have Turkmen Parliamentary delegation in Turkey as soon as possible.
On FETO terrorist organization
We expressed our gratitude to Turkmenistan for taking precautionary steps against the FETO terrorist organization.
We have done everything to contain and combat this terrorist organization.
I would like to underline that what the head of the Turkmen parliament said during the meeting was very sincere and forthcoming.
On the situation at Turkish-Syrian border
On the other hand, there are several other terrorist organizations such as Daesh, PKK, PYD/YPG, DHKP-C, FETO targeting our country and we continue to take necessary measures to combat those terrorist organizations.
There is a destructive and lethal network in Syria.
During the meeting with Ms. Mammedova, we also informed the Turkmen side about this terrorist network in Syria. We try to show to the whole world that this terrorist structure aims to justify its own existence. The said terrorist network have conducted hostile behaviour towards Kurds, Christians, Yezidis, Turkmens, and Arabs in Syria.
We have 911 km of land border with Syria. The USA is trying to intervene from a distance of 11.000 km. The US intervention is not a solution. On the contrary, it is creating more problems and complicating the matter.
Because of this situation we have four million Syrians living as our guests in Turkey.
We would like to say that we want them to return to their homeland honourably. We would also like to make sure that they live in peace.
After our decision to intervene, the Turkish, Kurdish, and Turkmen population in Syria was very happy when they saw the Turkish soldiers.
Just in a few days we were able to take control of more than 1000 square kilometers of territory in Syria.
At this point the whole world is cognizant of our rightfulness.
The state of Turkey respects human rights.
It is not just Turkish or Turkmen. Any illegal organization that targets peace and the people, has to be neutralized.
Also, our president in his statement underlined the importance of countering and neutralizing these groups. We will continue our determination in combatting terrorism.
There will be some outcome within the five days. Either the terrorist groups will go away or we will pick up the operation where we left off. We will keep doing what we have been doing till all the terrorist groups are eliminated from the area. [President Erdoğan and Russian President Putin met at a bilateral Summit in Sochi on 22 October and adopted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the removal of PYD/YPG threat in Syria. Ed.]
We have good understanding with Russia and Iran concerning the issue of Syria. We don’t think this operation will become a problem [in our relations with Russia and Iran].
The main problem is the elimination of terrorist groups and restoring peace and stability. This is what Russia, Iran, and Turkey want.
The 30-km wide security zone will be inside the Syrian territory. We don’t want any terrorist presence or activity within 30 km of our joint borders with Syria. We want to establish a secure and safe region. We want the Syrians to live in peace.
We have spent USD 40 billion for the Syrians living in Turkey. Although the EU pledged 6 billion Euros, so far they only contributed half of that amount.
According to the agreement we made with the USA [on 17 October 2019] the security zone will be managed by the Turkish armed forces.
In case of any situation that endangers peace in the security zone, the Turkish armed forces will take the necessary remedial measures.
Most importantly, we want to restore peace and to protect the territorial integrity of Syria.
Our main aim is to ensure that the Syrian people can live in peace and stability and to prevent the activities of terrorist organizations in the region.
nCa Commentary by Tariq Saeedi
The key to understanding the Turkish point of view is that any action against YPG is not ipso facto an action against the Kurds.
YPG is acronym for Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, which means People’s Protection Groups.
The YPG is the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a group that was spun out of the PKK in 2003. The PKK has waged war against the Turkish government for decades, leading both Washington and Ankara to designate it as a terrorist entity.
In February 2018, testifying to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Congress, the Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, the top U.S. intelligence official, explicitly defined the YPG as the “PKK’s militia force in Syria”.
This clearly makes YPG a terrorist group, whether it is officially recognized as such or not.
In the joint Turkish-US statement on northeast Syria, it has been visibly acknowledged that Turkey has been forced to take action at its border because of very legitimate concerns. The statement, issued after the meeting between President Erdogan and Vice President Pence in Ankara on 17 October 2019, also recognizes the need for Turkey to establish a safe zone inside the Syrian territory and for the Turkish armed forces to manage the security zone.
The complete text of the joint statement can be found here: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/full-text-turkey-statement-northeast-syria-191017191203481.html
Any obstruction by any country or organization in securing the safe zone will be an act of aggression against peace and stability.
We have reached an Either-Or point: If the security zone can be established along the Turkish border with Syria and the Syrian refugees can be successfully settled in it, this would be a blessing for the world in so many different ways.
If the Turkish attempt to create the security zone is thwarted by whatever means, it would be catastrophic, not just for the immediate neighbourhood but for the regions far and wide.
Everyone needs to make their decisions now and stand by those decisions. This is history in the making. It would not be blissful to be found on the wrong side of history.
Memorandum of Understanding Between Turkey and the Russian Federation
(Sochi, October 22, 2019)
President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:
- The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the protection of national security of Turkey.
- They emphasize their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.
- In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 km will be preserved.
- Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances.
- Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except Qamishli city.
- All YPG elements and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat.
- Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.
- Joint efforts will be launched to facilitate the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary manner.
- A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum.
- The two sides will continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee. /// nCa, 25 October 2019