World, Americas

Turkish FM says US intervenes in Venezuelan politics

Cavusoglu's remarks follow Washington's recognition of opposition-controlled National Assembly leader as interim president

Sena Güler,Meryem Göktaş   | 24.01.2019
Turkish FM says US intervenes in Venezuelan politics Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

By Ecenur Colak and Tevfik Durul

ANKARA 

 The U.S. has repeatedly interfered with the domestic politics of its southern neighbor, Venezuela, said Turkey's foreign minister on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, recently the U.S. and some Latin American countries have repeatedly intervened in the internal affairs of Venezuela," Mevlut Cavusoglu told news channel A Haber.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of the country, marking the most significant escalation in the ongoing feud between Washington and Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s president. Maduro quickly shot back, cutting off diplomatic relations with the U.S. and giving U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

Cavusoglu said that it was "very strange" that Venezuela's National Assembly leader declared himself interim president despite the country already having an elected president.

“And some countries recognized him [as interim president]. This situation may lead to chaos,” he said.

Stating that Venezuela is among the world’s top countries in terms of its natural resources, Cavusoglu said to date it has fallen short of making use of these.

Calling the latest developments in the country troubling, Cavusoglu said Turkey is also trying to support the nation’s economy under these tough conditions.

He also reiterated Turkey’s strong support for democracy.

Brazil and the Organization of American States had recognized Guaido as Venezuela's leader prior to his formal announcement. Following suit were Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay, while Bolivia and Mexico continue to recognize Maduro.

Maduro has repeatedly lashed out at the U.S., saying Washington is waging an economic war against him and his government amid a sweeping sanctions campaign.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced solidarity with Maduro early Thursday after Washington recognized Guaido as interim president.

US representative to Syria due in Turkey

Cavusoglu also said that James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy to Syria, will visit Turkey on Thursday and Ankara will continue talks at all levels with Washington for a political solution in war-torn Syria.

On last month’s sudden U.S. decision to pull out from Syria, Cavusoglu said: “This is a sudden decision. It was also a surprise for the U.S. and everyone else.”

He cited “different” approaches to the pullout even in the U.S.

He added that Turkey has a clear stance on its own national security and interests, adding that the roadmap for Manbij, Syria should be implemented as soon as possible.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of PYD/YPG terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is in the northeast of northern Syria's Aleppo province.

Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij at the beginning of November.

Adana pact with Syria

Cavusoglu said according to Adana Agreement signed in 1998 between Turkey and Syria, the latter needs to fight terrorism inside its territories and prevent any threat to Turkey, as well as hand over terrorists to Ankara.

He added that the deal provides Turkey with a right to intervene in the region should Syria fail to fulfill its obligations.

“The Syrian regime also knows that the YPG/PKK wants to divide Syria. The Syrian regime also opposes it, just like Russia, Iran, and we do,” he said.

Stating that the people also oppose the terrorist group, Cavusoglu said Kurds have been saying they hope to see Turkish forces back in Syria, in a sign of sentiment turning against YPG/PKK terrorists.

He warned that Kurds should be seen as separate from the terrorist groups.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

Khashoggi case

On the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed last October at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Cavusoglu reiterated that Turkey is carrying out a transparent process on the case and that it is important to expose the culprits in the killing.

Citing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stated wish for an international probe into the case, he added that Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is due to visit Turkey at the end of January.

Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After producing various contradictory explanations, Riyadh acknowledged he was killed inside the consulate building, blaming the act on a botched rendition operation. 

Turkey has sought the extradition of the Saudi citizens involved in the killing as well as a fuller accounting of the killing from Riyadh.


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