By Cansu Dikme and Kubra Chohan
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday alleged that the U.S. and its allies supply weapons to terrorists for free, while refusing to sell them to Turkey.
In an interview to Turkish channel NTV, he said: “So where does the threat come from? It comes primarily from strategic partners.
“We cannot buy weapons from the U.S. with our money, but unfortunately, the U.S. and coalition forces give these weapons, this ammunition, to terrorist organizations for free.”
The U.S. has supported PYD/PKK, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization, that has waged a more than 30-year terror campaign against the Turkish state resulting in tens of thousands of deaths.
American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the PYD/PKK-led SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.
Erdogan called for peace with Greece, saying he does not want any more tensions, amid provocations in the Aegean and Mediterranean.
“We need peace now. Besides, our peace with you is like no other.
“Young, dynamic [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras desires to take a new step, in my last visit I saw the [Greek] president in the same spirit,” Erdogan added.
Speaking about the early election, Erdogan said the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party will continue its tenure if the nation wills, and will step down if it says "enough".
The parliament on Friday passed a bill calling for early elections on June 24, with 386 lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties supporting the move. The polls were expected to be held in November 2019.
Erdogan also explained the circumstances which led to the decision to hold snap polls. He said they were compelled to consider the issue, following a proposition by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, who is set to enter an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
“The statement of our ally [Bahceli], with whom we are realizing a public alliance, compelled us to assess the situation. We have evaluated it, and therefore we have reached [a conclusion].”
Erdogan stressed there was no meeting with Bahceli prior to his call for early elections.
He added that he did not have any qualms over a request for a joint rally with MHP.
The ruling party will begin campaigning following an announcement of the election schedule by the Supreme Board of Election, he said.
Erdogan said that a public opinion survey will be conducted to determine his party candidates for the parliament.
Without giving any details, he said he will address thousands of Turkish citizens in a foreign country.
“I will address 10,000 to 11,000 Turkish citizens in a closed gym in a country I will not announce at the moment,” Erdogan said.
On the participation of newly-formed opposition Good (IYI) Party in the elections, Erdogan said it would be subject to the decision of negotiations between the Supreme Board of Election and the prosecutor’s office of the Court of Cassation.
In an April 2017 referendum, Turkish voters approved a bill switching Turkey from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
Under the changes, the number of lawmakers in parliament rises to 600 from 550, presidential and parliamentary elections are to be held every five years, and presidents can retain ties to their political party. The post of the prime minister is also abolished.
Fight against FETO
Speaking about the fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Erdogan said the whereabouts of Adil Oksuz, who is accused of being the mastermind of the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, are being determined.
"Some contacts have been established," Erdogan said.
He also said so far 83 members of the organization have been brought back to Turkey.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Erdogan said at least 16,650 YPG/PKK terrorists were “neutralized” in Turkey and northern Iraq over the last three years.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.