Turkey, Politics, Europe

Turkey lashes at France's criticism of anti-terror op

Turkish foreign minister, ruling party spokesman slam French president's comments on Operation Peace Spring in Syria

Omur Melih Uzelce   | 28.11.2019
Turkey lashes at France's criticism of anti-terror op Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

ANKARA

Turkey on Thursday dismissed recent comments by French President Emmanuel Macron against Turkey's anti-terror operation in Syria.

"Macron's words, in my eyes, have no meaning," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, adding that the French leader "constantly hosts" terrorists at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Citing a statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ankara is a NATO ally, Cavusoglu urged Macron to stand by its allies.

On Macron's comments that the NATO alliance had become a "brain dead", Cavusoglu said the French president disgruntled everyone, including NATO members, and drew criticism from all.

"Right now, there is a void in Europe, he is trying to be its leader," Cavusoglu said, adding that with such remarks, Macron could not be the leader of Europe.

 'Disruptive politics'

Following Macron's remarks, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who reportedly said the French president continually engaged in "disruptive politics".

"Macron keeps breaking one cup after the other and still wants tea," Kalin said on Twitter.

He was referring to France's sole veto of North Macedonia's accession into the EU, despite "Skopje's having done everything Brussels had asked of it, including changing its name".

According to a recent New York Times report, Merkel told Macron: "I understand your desire for disruptive politics. But I’m tired of picking up the pieces. Over and over, I have to glue together the cups you have broken so we can then sit down and have a cup of tea together."

Macron on Thursday said Turkey should not expect the support of its NATO allies in its anti-terror operation in northern Syria.

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.

Under two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone.

But the terrorists have failed to withdraw from some areas and continue to attack both soldiers and civilians.

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 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.

'Macron must confront France's actions in Africa'

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party also slammed Macron's comments, with spokesman Omer Celik saying: "Macron should first face the situation of his own country which has held operations all over Africa to protect its colonial interests in disregard to [international] law."

Celik also said: "Macron's words on Syria is nothing more than France's intention to keep its colonial past in Syria alive with bright sentences."

On Macron's previous comments on NATO, Celik said that the critics of Turkey's fight against terror work for Europe's "brain death".

Turkey has been a key member of NATO alliance, played a crucial role since beginning, says Turkish communications director

Blaming NATO for France’s poor policy choices and growing strategic irrelevance is unfair to the longstanding alliance, said Turkey's communications director on Friday. 

“It is unfair to the French people as well,” Fahrettin Altun added in English on Twitter.

Implicitly slamming French President Emmanuel Macron for saying Turkey should not expect NATO support for its anti-terror operation in northern Syria, Altun said NATO can be more relevant and effective if its members work together.

"Every responsible member state and their leaders need to bring their suggestions for reform while pursuing common interest and security for all,” he wrote on Twitter.

"We can transform this organization that corresponds to the security challenges of our time," Altun said. 

He added that at every NATO leaders’ summit, Turkey puts forth recommendations and calls on its fellow members to understand Turkey’s national security concerns.

"Turkey has been a key member of the NATO alliance and played a crucial role since the beginning,” he wrote. 

"As a staunch member continuing to perform our duties for the alliance, we will seek to improve the effectiveness and relevance of NATO," Altun 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.

Under two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone.

But the terrorists have failed to withdraw from some areas and continue to attack both soldiers and civilians.

"Transatlantic alliance’s strength and effectiveness is key to the collective security and wellbeing of its member states,” wrote Altun.

"As every other international organization, NATO needs reforms and revisions over time. It’s the NATO members’ responsibility to guide this process," he urged.

*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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