Türkİye, Politics, World

Türkiye says NATO recorded PKK/PYD/YPG, FETO as terror groups for 1st time

Turkish president says will closely monitor implementation of deal signed with Finland, Sweden

Merve Aydogan and Busra Nur Cakmak   | 01.07.2022
Türkiye says NATO recorded PKK/PYD/YPG, FETO as terror groups for 1st time

ANKARA

As a result of Türkiye's efforts in Madrid, PKK/PYD/YPG and FETO were written off as terror groups in NATO's records for the first time, said the Turkish president on Friday.

Speaking to reporters while returning from the NATO summit, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the decisions taken at Madrid will bear fruit in time. "Promises are important, but the main thing is their implementation," he said on the landmark memorandum signed between Finland, Sweden and Türkiye.

With the signing of the memorandum, Türkiye lifted an objection to the Nordic countries' NATO bid. In return, Finland and Sweden will address Türkiye's terrorism concerns.

However, Erdogan said Türkiye will be cautious as "a country that has repeatedly been stabbed in the back in its fight against terrorism."

"We will closely monitor whether the promises made to our country are fulfilled in the coming period," he further said.

"From now on, it will be much more difficult for PKK and FETO members to make terrorist propaganda, attack our country and our citizens and vandalize," he said.

Erdogan said: "The ball is now in Sweden and Finland's court. When there is any mistake, we already have undeniable documents and we will do what is necessary."

"Sweden will extradite 73 terrorists to us. They have sent 3-4 of them so far, but that is not enough. The Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MIT (Turkish National Intelligence) will keep a firm grip on the issue," he added.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join the alliance last month, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine.

But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said that Türkiye has "legitimate concerns related to their fight against the PKK terrorist group and other organizations," and that the PKK is considered a terror organization by NATO, the EU, as well as Finland and Sweden.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Türkiye, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Greece relations

On relations with Greece, Erdogan said that NATO leaders whom he met in Madrid offered to intermediate to organize talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“Almost all presidents and prime ministers I met said ‘Let us be the intermediary, bring you together, will you not have a meeting, at least until the end of this year?’” said Erdogan.

“We said ‘sorry, but we don’t have time for such a meeting right now.’ Because it is obvious that they are militarizing the islands,” said Erdogan.

Last month, Erdogan criticized Mitsotakis for his comments on Türkiye during an official visit to the US, saying that the Greek prime minister is no longer fit to deal with.

Türkiye in recent months has also stepped up criticism of Greece stationing troops on islands in the eastern Aegean, near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from shore.

These islands were required to be demilitarized under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, so any troops or weapons on the islands are strictly forbidden.

Relations with Russia

In the backdrop of NATO's new security policy, Erdogan said his country is maintaining a "balanced policy" in relations with Russia and Ukraine, as it does not want any harm to its "diplomatic traffic".

President Erdogan said Türkiye has ties with Russia and receives almost 40% of its natural gas from Russia.

"On the other hand, we are currently working on nuclear energy, Akkuyu Power Plant. The foundation for the fourth part will be laid in a few months, perhaps in July," he said.

Aside from energy, Türkiye and Russia also cooperate in the defense industry, he said.

Erdogan said a special session on terrorism and threats emerging from the south was held at the summit at Türkiye's request.

He further stated that "in the (NATO) Strategic Concept, we marked for the first time that terrorist organizations threaten our security forces and our peoples and territories."

NATO leaders on Wednesday approved the 2022 Strategic Concept, a blueprint for the alliance for the next decade.

It covers the alliance’s priorities and goals for the next 10 years, and sets its joint position on emerging challenges, including Russia, while also addressing China for the first time.

The 2022 Strategic Concept accuses China of pursuing “coercive policies” that threaten NATO's “interests, security and values.”

It cites the “deepening strategic partnership” between China and Russia as a threat, saying that “their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

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