Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, when asked whether Turkey should conduct military operations against the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG), said Turkey would not hesitate to strike at any group that poses a threat to national security. Speaking to journalists on his return flight from New York where he attended the 70th opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, he said the military had conducted cross-border operations in northern Iraq from where PKK militants infiltrated Turkey and an equal response should be expected if the same happened from northern Syria, where the PYD is based. The PYD is the Syrian-wing of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., EU and Turkey.
He briefed journalists about his series of meetings in New York, arguing that Turkey had started to come to the fore on a range of issues, from development to global warming and migration and that the country had become more engaged with the world.
"We are the chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, which will meet in Turkey this month. On the issue of Somalia, we lead the world. For those who try to claim that Turkey is becoming more isolated, I list these examples," he said. He also noted that he met with representatives of more than 40 countries in New York and received requests for meetings from 55.
Russian intervention in Syria
Davutoğlu, when asked about the recent Russian airstrikes in Syria, said the country had been part of the Syrian crisis by supporting the Assad regime from the very beginning. "We know what those Russian battleships that passed through the Bosporus Strait carried to Syria. Russia provided the equipment and Iran the human resource," he said.
He said Russian escalation through airstrikes was worrying, adding that the strikes targeted the moderate Syrian opposition. "In July, Bashar Assad voiced his concern over failing to find enough military recruits. Russia intervened because the end was nigh for Assad. Anti-Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) coalition members are united in their opposition to the Russian moves," Davutoğlu added, "We frankly voice our objections in our meetings with Russian officials."
Support for safe zone
The prime minister noted French President François Hollande's support for a plan to set up a safe zone in Syria. "Three issues are important. Implementing a plan to keep the refugees in Syria and preventing a new refugee exodus. Managing the refugees who have already fled Syria. And preparing for the eventual return of the refugees," he said.
He said the world needed to understand the mentality of the refugees. "Those who temporarily fled to Turkey are now of the opinion that the civil war in Syria is never going to end, and they need to make alternative life plans. They want to create a permanent life in Europe. This is understandable."
Nov. 1 elections
He dismissed the Republican People's Party (CHP) manifesto released on Wednesday as the same as the one released before the June 7 elections. "None of the parties apart from us have any desire to become the government. They can't even promise that to their own voters. The Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) sole aim is to form a single-party government. Our manifesto on Sunday will be different and starting from Monday, we will be reaching out to the electorate."
He said the AK Party had approached all parties to form a coalition government and eliminate political tension, pointing to his call for all to abide by certain rules of decency and politeness when engaging in politics.
Attacks on journalists unacceptable
Davutoğlu condemned Wednesday's assault on Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan, arguing that no one could dispute that this was a grievous crime.
"The same way, the attack on Murat Sancak, on the Sabah and Hürriyet buildings are crimes, and I condemn them all. Those responsible will be punished."
Palestinian flag at UN
Davutoğlu, speaking on the raising of the Palestinian flag at U.N. headquarters in New York, said Turkey had been with the Palestinians ever since the beginning of the process.
"[Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas always tells me about his sincere gratitude. He specifically waited for me to conclude my speech to begin the raising of the flag."
On the issue of the continued tense relations with Israel, Davutoğlu said the Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa compound was the major impediment to possible rapprochement. "Israel's aggressive stance ruined the normalization process," he said.
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