Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu addressed the ongoing Syrian crisis on Sunday, urging officials to strengthen the nationwide cease-fire while underlining that the upcoming Geneva talks are the only means for a political resolution.
Minister Çavuşoğlu also emphasized the need for a governmental change in Syria, referencing to the U.N.-led Geneva talks set to begin on Thursday he said, "We need to resume the Geneva talks, which are the main basis of a political solution and transition [in Syria]."
During his speech titled "Old Crisis, New Middle East" at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Turkey's foreign minister underlined that the nationwide cease-fire in Syria must first be strengthened, further noting that, "Turkey was able to make significant progress in Syria with the support of Russia and sometimes Iran."
Emphasizing the crucial importance of the Astana talks in the successful brokering of the cease-fire deal, Çavuşoğlu said that the Astana talks provided "confidence-building measures" on the ground.
"Astana has never been an alternative to Geneva. It is a good confidence-building mechanism for maintaining the cease-fire agreement. ...However, now we need to resume talks at Geneva which will be the main basis for a political solution and transition in Syria," the foreign minister affirmed.
Çavuşoğlu went on to address the need for more active military combat in the fight against Daesh and other terrorist organizations in the region.
"We must defeat terror groups in Syria. We need to find a better strategy [in defeating terror groups]. We can defeat terror groups by cooperating with better groups on the ground because we must also eradicate the ideology of these terror groups as the ideology has nothing to do with Islam in any way, shape or form," Çavuşoğlu added.
The foreign minister continued to address the ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, saying that Turkey's counterterror operations on the ground in Syria are being conducted in cooperation with the local Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Çavuşoğlu stressed that the PKK's Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG) must not be legitimized.
"Is the PYD/YPG working for the territorial integrity of Syria? No, they have their own [geopolitical] agenda, which is to establish their own canton in the region. We do not accept any terror state or canton in northern Syria," he said.
Furthermore, Çavuşoğlu expressed support for the ongoing counterterror operation against Daesh in Iraq, saying that, "[Turkey] supports Iraq in its fight against Daesh and, in that respect; we have two bases that were established at the request of Iraqi officials. Thus, it is important to cooperate with appropriate groups in Iraq against terrorism."
Çavuşoğlu indicated that if the distinctions between "good and bad terrorists" being made by Western powers continue, "terrorists in Iraq will gain ground in the country."
The Geneva talks on Feb. 23 will be the first attended by the Bashar Assad regime and opposition delegates since talks were suspended in April last year. Syrian opposition leaders left the Geneva talks in April 2016 after airstrikes on civilians were carried out by Russia and the Assad regime. The troubled talks had failed to get off the ground despite hopes raised by the previous cease-fire agreement.
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