Turkey has alternate plans if the agreement declaring a safe zone in northern Syria with the U.S. does not work, the Turkish defense minister said on Monday.
In an interview aired on the TRT Haber news channel, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said some new steps are expected in the coming days to enforce a safe zone in northern Syria.
"Airspace control and coordination are very important. There has been a great deal of progress on that," Akar said, voicing hope that steps that would be taken with the U.S. in northern Syria after the establishment of a joint operations center, would be in line with the spirit of alliance and strategic partnership.
He cautioned that if the understanding with the U.S. on the safe zone does not work, Turkey would unilaterally devise alternate plans in northern Syria.
"Call it a plan B or plan C, if things do not work, we will take recourse to unilateral activities and actions in northern Syria," Akar said.
Turkish and U.S. military officials on Wednesday agreed to set up a safe zone and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians, who are longing to return their home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
- 'Cyprus is national cause for us'
Akar also said that Turkey will not make compromises on the equity and security of Turkish Cypriots. "Cyprus is a national cause for us,” he said.
The defense minister said any decision or solution excluding either Turkey or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will not survive.
Reminding that Turkey is one of the guarantor countries in Cyprus dispute, Akar said Turkey has significant rights and responsibilities, stipulated in the guarantorship mechanism and alliance agreement.
Stressing that no fait accompli will be allowed in the cause of Cyprus, he also warned against taking any unilateral steps.
"If steps are to be taken unilaterally, then everyone should know that the Republic of Turkey and its army are ready.”
He, however, urged the importance of solving problems in accordance with international law and maintaining good neighborly relations.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation to Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.
Since then, there have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- ended without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
Reporting by Sarp Ozer
Writing by Sibel Morrow