By Dildar Baykan and S. Ahmet Aytac
Turkey will not tolerate looting in areas of Afrin, northwestern Syria liberated from terrorists by Turkish-backed forces, said Turkey’s foreign minister on Tuesday.
"We are sensitive to looting or inhuman treatment, we will not allow them [in Afrin]," Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference in the capital Ankara alongside his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Kudret Ozersay.
On Sunday, Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army fighters liberated the Afrin town center -- the major urban area in the Afrin region -- from YPG/PKK terrorists as part of Operation Olive Branch launched on Jan. 20.
Cavusoglu also addressed disputes over contracts to use the natural resources around the island of Cyprus.
“The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Turkish people are entitled to the reserves around the island, and this right must be guaranteed. We have passed on this message to all relevant institutions such as the UN and the EU,” said Cavusoglu.
“We also strongly urge that we will not allow unilateral work by the Greek Cypriot side.”
On possible talks over the island’s future, he said: "In the days to come, this issue will come before the UN and the EU. Turkey and the TRNC will evaluate what method we could use to reach a solution for this issue. We will have a roadmap."
Cavusoglu also dismissed Greek Cypriot demands that Turkish soldiers leave the island.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and Britain collapsing in 2017.
Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the talks' failure, also faulting the European Union for admitting Cyprus as a divided island into the union in 2004 after Greek Cypriot voters rejected a peace deal.
Separately, Cavusoglu said he would speak with the U.S. Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo once his appointment is confirmed by the U.S. Congress. "We would continue working where we left off if they are also willing,” he said.
President Donald Trump on March 13 announced Pompeo as his pick to be the country’s new secretary of state, ousting Rex Tillerson.