Turkey, Politics, World

'Peace in Syria depends on Western support to Turkey'

Turkey rejects all plans that do not meet most basic demands of Syrian people, says Turkish president

Burak Bir and Dilan Pamuk   | 15.03.2021
'Peace in Syria depends on Western support to Turkey'

ANKARA 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes that re-establishing peace and stability in Syria depends on Western support to Ankara.

In a column titled The West should help Turkey end Syria's Civil War for Bloomberg, Erdogan wrote that a peaceful and lasting solution will not be possible unless Syria's territorial integrity and political unity are respected.

"On the 10th anniversary of the Syrian uprising, we should remember the hundreds of thousands of people killed and tortured, and the millions displaced - all because they demanded democracy, liberty and human rights," he noted.

Erdogan stressed that Turkey rejects "any plan that does not address the Syrian people’s demand for human dignity," as such options would only deepen the crisis.

"At the same time, we stress that a peaceful and lasting solution will be impossible in the absence of respect for Syria’s territorial integrity and political unity," he added.

'Safe zones become islands of peace, stability'

The Turkish president said safe zones in Syria, which Turkey created in cooperation with its local partners, are proof of Ankara's commitment to the future of the war-torn country.

"These areas have become islands of peace and stability, as well as self-sustaining ecosystems. We have implemented basic programs to establish and train law enforcement; improve civilian infrastructure, including power and drinking water; and reopened schools and hospitals," said Erdogan.

He went on to say that Ankara created safe zones in areas liberated from terrorist organizations, including the YPG/PKK and Daesh/ISIS, "patiently and decisively" to create "new hope" in Syria.

"By taking all these measures, Turkey has sheltered Europe from irregular migration and terrorism, and secured NATO’s southeastern border. Our actions, which reflect our values, support our claim that Turkey is the hope of oppressed peoples, the guardian of innocents, and the key to a solution," Erdogan noted.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.

'3 options available to West'

Erdogan stressed that the Western world has three options on the Syrian crisis: The first is "to watch from the sidelines as more innocent people lose their lives in Syria," while the second is "to take the military, economic and diplomatic measures necessary to develop a lasting solution."

The third one, he said, being the "most sensible option," is supporting Turkey and becoming part of the solution in Syria "at minimum cost and with maximum impact."

Erdogan added that Turkey specifically expects the West to clearly stand against the YPG/PKK terror group, which "plays into the hands of the Assad regime" and attacks safe zones where millions of displaced Syrian live.

"Moreover, we call on the Western nations to live up to their responsibilities to end the humanitarian crisis, as failure to share Turkey’s burden may result in fresh waves of migration towards Europe," he added.

The Turkish president also called on the Western world to "invest" in safe zones within Syria and endorse the peace project, saying: "We must show the world that there is a democratic and prosperous alternative for Syria’s future."

Turkey's efforts on diplomacy, humanitarian relief

"Turkey proved that it is the only country that can do what’s necessary in Syria by leading humanitarian relief efforts, being on the front line against terrorist groups and actively participating in diplomatic processes," Erdogan also said. 

"The Joe Biden administration must stay true to its campaign pledges and work with us to end the tragedy in Syria and to defend democracy," Erdogan said, adding that the Turkish people are ready to support any initiative that will serve the interests of our Syrian neighbors 

Syria has been embroiled in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.

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