Turkiye, Politics

Turkey to sort out safe zone in N.Syria soon: Erdogan

One way or another, Turkey will sort out formation of safe zone east of Euphrates 'in few weeks', says President Erdogan

Zuhal Demirci and Jeyhun Aliyev   | 07.09.2019
Turkey to sort out safe zone in N.Syria soon: Erdogan


Turkey will sort out the formation of a safe zone in the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria in few weeks, the Turkish president said Saturday.

"Now there is the east of the Euphrates on our agenda. I hope that in a few weeks, one way or another, but surely we will sort it out," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during an event with his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's members in central Eskisehir province.

Joint Turkish-U.S. ground patrols for a planned safe zone in northern Syria are set to begin on Sunday, according to Turkey’s national defense minister.

Turkish and U.S. military officials reached an agreement on Aug. 7 that a planned safe zone in northern Syria will serve as a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians wanting to return home and that a Joint Operations Center in Turkey will be set up to coordinate its establishment.

Erdogan said he would pay a visit to the U.S. after Sept. 22, and he would attend the UN General Assembly meeting and "most probably" would separately meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and discuss "face-to-face" the steps to be taken in the east of the Euphrates River.

"Because what they do doesn't match what they say, so we need to solve it," Erdogan said, adding that it is unacceptable for Turkey that the U.S. trains the YPG/PYD terrorist organizations in the northern Syria.

He also stressed that Turkey will not remain silent to over 30,000 weapon, equipment and ammunition-laden trucks sent by the U.S. to the northern Syria area [to the PKK/YPG] as Turkey is the only country in the region to fight with.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of terror group PKK, which has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people in Turkey, including many children, women, and infants, for more than 30 years.

Refugee deal with the EU

Erdogan said that if the EU dishonors the pledge of support to Turkey regarding the refugees, Turkey has no other way but "opening its doors" to let Syrian refugees cross into Europe.

"On Thursday, we have made it clear to the whole world, especially Europe, that we will never alone bear the problems that arise from [Syria's] Idlib," Erdogan said.

The president also reiterated that Turkey so far has spent around $40 billion for refugees, while the support from the EU to Turkey was only around €3 billion ($3.34 billion).

"So, how can Turkey endure the burden of the 4 million refugees?" he asked.

Erdogan stressed that Turkey plans to settle at least 1 million people in the safe zone after works complete.

The 2016 refugee deal with the EU aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions for the 3 million -- now 3.6 million -- Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey has complained that the EU failed to uphold its side of the deal, including millions of euros in aid for the Syrian refugees.

The EU had pledged €6 billion ($6.6 billion) aid to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, but only €2.22 billion ($2.45 billion) were disbursed as of this June.

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

Mothers against HDP and PKK

Referring to the families in southeastern Turkey staging sit-in protests outside offices of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), long accused by the government of having links to the PKK terror group, Erdogan said those mothers are exerting an "epic struggle" to save their children from the separatist organization. 

The mothers in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir are seeking for the return of their children from forced recruitment and kidnapping by the terrorist PKK.

* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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