Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on NATO to show more support to Turkey in the face of threats posed by various terrorist groups and welcomed the objective stance of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in relation to the issue. Turkey has criticized its NATO partners over their support for the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the PKK and its several affiliates. Speaking in a joint press conference with the NATO chief in Ankara yesterday, Çavuşoğlu said, "We expect more support from NATO in our fight against terror groups. NATO was established to protect its members from threats. Therefore, in order to protect the members from threats regardless of where these threats come from, we need to work together."
Underlining that Turkey has been fighting against all terror groups and it is against double standards in the fight against terrorism, Çavuşoğlu said the NATO chief has been sharing the same understanding as well.
Çavuşoğlu highlighted that as Turkey will continue to support the efforts of the NATO alliance, NATO needs to fulfill the expectations of Turkey.
Marking his seventh visit to Ankara, Stoltenberg said, "the high number of visits reflect the deeply valued role Turkey plays in the alliance."
Stoltenberg added that "Turkey means a lot for the alliance despite facing serious security challenges. No other NATO ally has suffered as many attacks as Turkey." Touching on the instability in the region stemming from the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria, Stoltenberg praised that Turkey has opened its doors to 3.5 million Syrian refugees. He added that "Turkey does not stand alone. NATO stands with you in solidarity."
Turkey's Afrin operation
In the face of growing threats posed against its national security, Turkey has stepped up its efforts to fight against terrorism. In line with that, Operation Olive Branch was launched on Jan. 20 against the PKK's Syrian offshoot in Afrin, Syria. Turkey conducted the operation paying the utmost care in order to avoid civilian casualties and took control of the Afrin city center on March 18.
Commenting on Turkey's operation, Stoltenberg said, "Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu briefed me on Operation Olive Branch, and I am grateful for Turkey's continued transparency on this."
Use of chemical weapons in Syria
Stoltenberg highlighted that NATO strongly condemns the repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. "Those responsible must be held accountable," he said.
Following the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, the U.S., the U.K. and France hit Syria with airstrikes early on Saturday in response to a suspected poison gas attack that killed more than 70 civilians last week, in the biggest intervention yet by Western powers against Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad. The foreign minister stressed that Turkey will not leave its principles referring to the use of chemical weapons. He said that Turkey's ties with Russia are not an alternative to NATO and added that it should not undermine the ties with the latter as well.