Ankara vows to keep up 'active' diplomatic contacts

'Solid' and 'results-oriented' steps to be taken in wake of visit by US' Rex Tillerson, says Foreign Ministry spokesman

Ankara vows to keep up 'active' diplomatic contacts Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy

By Merve Aydogan


Turkey's busy diplomatic activity this January and February will continue in the months to come, said the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

"Our active tempo in foreign policy is set to continue in the upcoming period," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told a press briefing in the capital Ankara.

As part of this activity, during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's Feb. 16 visit to Turkey, the two nations decided on a "solid" and "results-oriented" mechanism, said Aksoy.

"The most important result of this visit is reaching an agreement regarding a joint statement on the Turkey-U.S. strategic partnership,” he said. “Through this statement, the two countries reiterated their determination in the fight against Daesh, the PKK, Al-Qaeda and all other terror groups and their extensions."

He added: "Establishing a results-oriented mechanism was agreed upon. Under this mechanism, three working groups are to be established.”

The first group will deal with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey -- and U.S. Consulate issues, and the second is on Syria, focusing on cooperation on eliminating Daesh and other terrorist groups, he said.

The second group will also deal with the U.S. pledges to rid the terrorist PYD/PKK from Manbij, northern Iraq -- a bone of contention, as the U.S. has called the PYD/PKK a “reliable ally” in the fight against Daesh.

The third group will deal with the terrorist PKK, the parent organization of the terrorist PYD/PKK.

Turkey sees the working groups as a chance to "rebuild" frayed bonds of trust between Ankara and Washington, said Aksoy.

The working groups, including members from the foreign, interior, and defense ministries, and intelligence are due to start meeting in mid-March.

Asked if there had been any dialogue with Damascus over the Syrian regime sending Shia fighters to intervene in Operation Olive Branch, Aksoy said: "There is no political dialogue between Turkey and Syria, there may be intelligence contact."

Despite the claims of some smear campaigns, the operation has not incurred any civilian casualties so far, he said.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

The Turkish General Staff has said the Afrin operation is aimed at establishing security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protecting Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty, in the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law.

The military also said "utmost care and sensitivity" is being put on avoiding harm to civilians.

Events of 1915

On the Dutch parliament considering motions supporting the Armenian allegations about the events of 1915, Aksoy said: "We do not expect the Netherlands to pass such a decision."

He reiterated Turkey's determination to join the European Union, saying "Turkey's place is within the EU."

Turkey denies the alleged Armenian “genocide” of 1915 but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events of World War I.

Ankara describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.

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