The Turkish president has said the deal reached with Russia on Syria confirms Turkey’s security concerns and aims at bringing peace and stability to war-torn Syria.
"The deal, which confirms our country’s [Turkey's] security concerns and aims at bringing peace and stability to Syria, has reached the desired conclusion after intense efforts," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters late Tuesday on his way back to the country following his meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to Turkey’s Communications Directorate.
Erdogan and Putin held on Tuesday a "historic" meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
Erdogan noted that an "important" deal was signed in Sochi and said: "With the deal, we dealt another blow to the terror corridor. We have taken a step that will strengthen Syria’s territorial integrity."
Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols there.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
He also said Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria yielded another fruit and formed the basis for return of Syrians to their home.
"If either the U.S. or Russia does not fulfill their promises given the deals, Turkey will not pull back from taking the steps that need to be taken," Erdogan said, adding: "Putin was very determined saying that we [Russia] will definitely remove them [terrorists] from the region."
If the promises are not kept, that is when Turkey’s duty starts, added Erdogan.
- 'Terrorist is terrorist'
On the possibility of infiltration of the YPG/PKK terrorists into the Syrian regime army, Erdogan recalled Putin’s remarks that Russia would not allow it.
Erdogan said Turkey will be following the issue.
Noting that everybody speaks of Kurds in the region, Erdogan reiterated that Turkey has no problem with Kurds.
"Our concern is the terrorists in the region," he said, adding that everyone, including the U.S. and Russia, call terrorists "the Kurds".
"This [approach] is disrespectful to our Kurdish brothers and sisters," he said, and underlined that nationality or religion of a terrorist does not matter.
"Terrorist is a terrorist," Erdogan said.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara agreed with Washington on Oct. 17 to pause its operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone.
- No positive response for construction of safe zone
Erdogan said if the agreement is successful, Turkey wants to start reconstruction and infrastructure work as soon as possible on the area of the Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.
Whenever Turkey offers a country or an international organization to work on it together, they like the idea, he said.
But when Turkey needs the resources, those countries and international organizations avoid helping Turkey by saying they used their resources for refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, Erdogan added.
"We have not received a positive response from anyone yet. Due to negative responses, there is only one solution left.
"This is to activate the UN for the international donors meeting. But I do not know, if that would bear any result?" Erdogan said.
On the comments of European countries about the latest developments, Erdogan said there will be a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in the following days.
Erdogan also said: "This 150-hour provision in the deal with Russia will begin on Oct. 23 at 12 noon [0900GMT]. We will also see what will happen there. If we take a positive result, there will be no problem left."
Referring to the foreign countries’ claim that YPG and PKK terror organizations are different, Erdogan said the countries can no longer claim that these groups are separate after the latest developments.
Erdogan added he will visit the U.S. to meet with President Donald Trump on Nov. 13.
Reporting by Aynur Ekiz
Writing by Sena Guler and Fahri Aksut