Turkey's president on Wednesday condemned those who use the word 'Islam' as an adjective to describe terrorism.
“Islam is a religion of peace,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during an event at a venue in east London organized by the AK Party’s UK branch presidency where he and First Lady Emine Erdogan met representatives of the Turkish community following a NATO summit in London.
Underlining that racism, discrimination, anti-Semitism and hostility towards Islam have recently increased in Europe, Erdogan said far-right movements are mostly targeting Muslims and the Turkish community.
“The last European Parliament elections have once again demonstrated that identity politics is becoming increasingly dominant in Europe,” he said, adding the media and some politicians have deepened these prejudices with their irresponsible statements.
Erdogan also touched on Turkey’s fight against terrorism.
“Those who think they can discipline Turkey with terrorism and blackmail are embarrassed after failing to achieve their target.”
He added that Turkey is “independent in its foreign policy” and does not seek approval of operations for its own security.
Turkey will not leave the Operation Peace Spring area in northern Syria until it is cleared of terrorists, he underscored.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK 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.
Under two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from a planned Syrian safe zone.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some 2 million refugees.
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 the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Erdogan also underlined that Turkey currently hosts more than four million Syrians who took refuge within its borders.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.
He also criticized the EU for failing to fulfill its pledge to financially support Turkey for refugees it hosts.
On bilateral relations between Turkey and the U.K., Erdogan said the deep-rooted cooperation between the two countries is developing day by day and is getting stronger by acquiring new dimensions.
He stressed that the bilateral trade volume between Turkey and the U.K. reached $18.6 billion in 2018.
By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal and Zehra Nur Duz