Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Omer Celik refuted allegations Wednesday that there had been a cease-fire agreement between Turkey and the PKK/PYD terror groups.
"The Republic of Turkey is an independent, lawful state," said Celik, answering journalists' questions at Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk. "It cannot be evaluated as if they [Turkey and PKK/PYD] were equal and there was an agreement between them.
"PYD's activities in northern Syria benefit terror groups, not Kurdish people," he added.
Several media reports on Tuesday, citing U.S. officials, had said a cease-fire had been agreed between Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and the PYD/PKK forces.
Ankara considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, to be the Syrian offshoots of the PKK terror group, which has waged war on Turkey for decades, and has declared their presence west of the Euphrates a red line.
While Turkey considers the PYD to be the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK organization, the U.S. sees the group as its ally in the fight against Daesh.
Operation Euphrates Shield, which was launched last week, is aimed at improving security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the terror threat along Turkey’s border through Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish armor, artillery and jets.
When asked about his evaluation on PKK/PYD's ongoing activities in Euphrates River region, despite the call from the U.S. that the terror group would retreat to the river's east, Celik said the issue formed the center of discussion in the fight against terrorism.
The minister said Turkey wanted to protect Syria’s territorial integrity and allow its different ethnic groups decide the country’s future jointly.
"From the beginning, when we called for a buffer zone in the region, it was unfortunate that no one agreed to it," Celik said. "If a buffer zone had been established, today these massacres would not have happened and there would be no migration, refugee problem."
Celik also said the Bashar al-Assad regime had “installed the PKK/PYD" to prevent the opposition from taking over certain areas in Syria. He added the regime's motivation had facilitated an environment for the PYD/PKK to control such areas.
"PYD tries to gain control by claiming to fight against Daesh and getting help from the U.S., collaborating with Assad regime and cooperating with Russia in the east of River Euphrates," Celik said.
The minister also refuted claims the Turkish government was against Kurdish people.
"The western media uses this claim and I see some leaders also use this claim as well," Celik said. "Kurdish people, Syrian Kurds are our brothers."
Celik said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his tenure as prime minister of Turkey, had suggested to Assad to allow free political elections and give Kurds a legal status.
"Our president tried to encourage Assad to do reforms, to prepare themselves to the changes in the region," he added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.