FM Çavuşoğlu: Armed support for YPG a risk for Syria's territorial integrity, unity

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 31.05.2017 23:24

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu addressed members of the media during a joint press conference Wednesday in Ankara with his Slovenian counterpart, Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, and underlined that the U.S. is providing heavy weaponry support to the PKK-affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG), calling it "extremely dangerous" for Syria's future, territorial integrity and unity. He urged U.S. officials to reverse their "mistake," saying: "If we seek stability for Syria's future, then we must turn away from those mistakes." Çavuşoğlu's remarks came shortly after the U.S. began distributing arms to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the PKK terror organization's Syria branch, the YPG, in Raqqa, disregarding Turkey's concerns about the terror group.

Slovenian Minister Erjavec arrived in Ankara on Tuesday to attend the Turkey-Slovenia Joint Economic Commission (JEC) May 30-31 where he held bilateral talks with Çavuşoğlu and discussed various aspects of bilateral political and economic relations, while exchanging views on regional matters. During the joint press conference, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu responded to a question regarding U.S. arms support for PKK-affiliate YPG, stressing that the decision is "a risk for the future of Syria." He said: "A weapon given to a terror group will not only be used against Turkey but also against the entire human race. During our recent meetings in Brussels, we saw similar concerns expressed by the majority of European states." Çavuşoğlu went on with his remarks by reiterating Turkey's stance on the matter of arming the PKK-affiliate YPG, saying that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his visit to Washington addressed the matter with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

"We know that the YPG exiled Kurds who are different than them, and we are aware that they [the YPG] is trying to establish a canton that is suitable to its own ideology. On the other hand, Syria's unity, togetherness and territorial integrity is under immense threat with such moves [arming the YPG]. If we seek stability for Syria's future, then we must turn away from those mistakes. There is no such thing as a temporary partnership; we [referring to U.S. officials] must learn from our past mistakes," Çavuşoğlu noted. Underlining that Turkey aims to further enhance de-escalation zones in Syria that were announced as a result of the Astana talks, Çavuşoğlu added that Turkey wants to end violations: "We want to focus on taking confident steps to rebuild while also focusing on reaching a political solution. …Though you will eliminate Daesh, you will face new terror groups under new names if you do not reach a political solution and stability; thus, not allowing terror to end. The best solution is a political solution."

U.S. support for the SDF has caused a major strain in relations between Washington and Ankara as the YPG forms the backbone of SDF forces. The U.S. says supporting the SDF is the only alternative for defeating the Daesh terrorist group; whereas Turkey says an alternative should be formed through local Arab tribes backed by countries in the region instead of supporting a terrorist group. Furthermore, Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, to be Syrian affiliates of the PKK, a proscribed terrorist organization according to the U.S., Turkey and the EU. The PYD has come under the spotlight for its crimes against Arab and Turkmen locals in northern Syria, as part of its attempt to implement demographic changes in the region. The PYD's forced migration of Arabs and Turkmens, as well as arbitrary arrests of critical voices and recruitment of child soldiers, have also been covered by international human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and KurdsWatch.

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