By Cansu Dikme, Sarp Ozer and Eda Unlu Ozen
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday praised Turkish people for their “firm stance” on the Jerusalem issue in his New Year’s message.
In the video message issued by the Presidency, Erdogan said the Jerusalem issue is a “test” for all the Muslims around the world.
“Jerusalem issue has turned into a new test for Muslims and the oppressed people around the world, alongside our nation and the region,” he stated.
“I offer my gratitude to my people for their firm stance and sincere attitude on the issue,” the president added.
U.S. President Donald Trump's Dec. 6 announcement of the change in U.S. policy on Jerusalem sparked worldwide criticism.
On Dec. 21, the UN General Assembly overwhelming adopted a Turkish-sponsored resolution rejecting Trump’s move by a vote of 128-9, with 35 abstentions.
Operation in Idlib
The president said the country took “rather significant” steps against the terrorist organization, particularly FETO and PKK/PYD in the year 2017.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the July 15 coup attempt that left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
“Last year, we took significant steps in this regard by launching Idlib operation in Syria and defeating independence attempt of [Kurdish] regional government in Iraq,” he said.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the U.S. and EU. In its more than three-decade terror campaign against Turkey, more than 40,000 people have been killed.
Since the group resumed its armed campaign in July 2015, more than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives.
He said Turkey also faced “serious” attacks on economy, especially during the outgoing year.
Erdogan also mentioned the economic growth of 7.4 percent in the first three quarters and more than $155 billion exports in 2017.
On his 34 overseas visits to 25 countries, Erdogan said: “We tried to represent our country at the highest level in the international arena.”
The president also said it is Turkey’s “strategic priority” to reduce foreign source dependency.
“So, we are determined to pursue our projects in energy, defense industry, and high technology, with the additional ones,” he added.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also greeted the nation on the New Year’s Eve.
“I wish the New Year brings peace, tranquility, and stability to Turkish nation, our region and the entire world,” Yildirim said in a statement issued by Prime Ministry.
The premier said Turkey aims at growth, investment and employment opportunities in 2018.
Yildirim also noted that Turkey assumes the role of “leader” in establishing peace in the world.
Referring to Jerusalem issue, he said Turkey shaped the decisions on the issue by gathering extraordinary meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and taking the issue to the United Nations General Assembly.