Turkey, Europe

Germany says Turkey remains crucial NATO partner

Top diplomat Maas says despite differences with Ankara on northern Syria, Turkey remains a key NATO ally

Ayhan Şimşek   | 07.11.2019
Germany says Turkey remains crucial NATO partner German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas



Turkey remains a crucial NATO partner despite differences between allies and Ankara on its recent anti-terror operation in northern Syria, Germany’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Speaking at a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo following their meeting in the eastern German city of Leipzig, Heiko Maas said they discussed various international issues, including Russia’s role in the region, Iran’s nuclear program, and the conflict in Syria during their meeting.

“Despite our differences with Ankara in these days, it is a partner of NATO, it is a crucial, a significant partner of NATO. We should keep dialogue open,” he stressed, amid criticisms of the U.S., Germany, and several other NATO allies to Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria.

Maas underlined the importance of ending hostilities, protecting civilian population in the region, and the need to comply with the UNHCR standards when facilitating the return of Syrian refugees to the areas cleared of terrorists.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was closely following the situation in northern Syria.

“We keep urging Russia and Turkey and the regime … not to take steps that would further destabilize already difficult region,” he said.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring 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.

Ankara and Washington reached a deal on Oct. 17 to pause the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned safe zone.

On Oct. 22, Turkey also reached an agreement with Russia on a 10-point plan to force the YPG/PKK group to withdraw from the planned terror-free zone.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed its determination to clear northern Syria of both Daesh and YPG/PKK 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 European Union -- has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

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