Turkey's Operation Olive Branch is an effort to provide security to the borders of Turkey, and at the same time, the borders of Europe, said Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik at the European Union ministers' meeting in Sofia yesterday.
Given this fact, "Our expectations from our allies, the EU states, is to give full support to the Operation Olive Branch," Çelik told in a press conference after the meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers, Gymnich, referring to Turkey's cross-border operation against the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Syria's northwest province of Afrin.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Recalling that the main focus of the meeting was defense and security, Çelik said Turkey is the central country for Europe on these issues. The EU minister told reporters that the participants were informed on the operation on Afrin. "Some concerns and worries are being voiced, the issues I particularly underline are these: Operation Olive Branch is in line with the international law. There is an attempt to establish a terror corridor around Turkey. There is nothing more natural for us than giving our strongest response on this," Çelik added.
Turkey has long argued that the YPG's ultimate goal is to establish a ‘terror corridor' south of its border, in northern Syria, as an attempt to build an autonomous region by connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast. Such aim of the terror group is considered as a national security threat by Ankara, as the group has waged an armed conflict against Turkey for the past four decades, causing the loss of lives of about 40,000 people and instability in the country's southeastern provinces.
Çelik also urged Ankara's European allies to acknowledge that the PKK/YPG is not a representative of the Kurds in general. "The strongest criticism to the PKK/YPG comes from the Kurdish groups there [northern Syria]," the EU minister said, while recalling the recent oppression by the YPG on other minority groups, which was most recently documented by the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs).
PYD and YPG forcefully kidnap and recruit Assyrian, Kurdish and Arab children to fight for them and violate the rights of the local population, the president of the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) recently said.
"The YPG talks about democracy, human rights and free will, but they do not uphold these ideals and forcefully kidnap children from their families and arm them," Johnny Messo, a Dutch-Aramean politician who has been serving as president of the council since 2009, told Anadolu Agency on Feb. 5.
The minister also criticized people who claimed the operation was against Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs in Afrin.
"Certainly, this is out of question. Turkey is a friend of Kurds in Syria. Our relations with Turkmen are irrefutably clear. It is a historical relation. Turkey is also a friend of Arabs," Çelik said. He reiterated that the operation only targets terrorist organizations.