NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged that Turkey has paid a high price for regional problems, as he urged the international community to find a sustainable solution to deal with Daesh terrorists held in Syria.
Speaking at a joint news conference Friday with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Istanbul, Stoltenberg touched upon the difficult situation Turkey is in.
Stoltenberg highlighted that NATO is strongly committed to Turkey's security as it is a country at the forefront of an unstable region.
"Turkey is at the forefront of a very volatile region; no other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks, no other NATO ally has been exposed to more instability, violence, turmoil from the Middle East as Turkey has," Stoltenberg said. However, he also said he expected Turkey to act with restraint.
Noting that Turkey is "a strong member" of NATO alliance and plays "a key part" in what NATO does from Black Sea to the Mediterranean, the secretary-general reiterated NATO's "strong commitment" to Turkey's security.
Talking about the common enemy Daesh, he also urged the international community to find "coordinated and sustainable solution" to deal with Daesh terrorists held in Syria.
"Turkey is an important part of this alliance and we appreciate your contributions to our collective security, our missions and operations. You are making NATO stronger," Stoltenberg concluded.
Çavuşoğlu thanked NATO for voicing support and acknowledging Turkey's legitimate concerns, but reiterated that Ankara expects its allies to show "clear solidarity."
"Saying we understand Turkey's legitimate concerns is not enough," he said, adding: "The contributions we have made so far is for the security of our country, the region and our allies. Within the framework of indivisibility of security, Turkey expects naturally and legitimately that our allies stand in solidarity."
"[The operation] is therefore highly important for the security of alliance territory," Çavuşoğlu said.
Stoltenberg's visit comes as Turkey is carrying out Operation Peace Spring, a cross-border anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria to clear terrorists from its borders.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.
The operation, conducted in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
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