Holding a press conference following the meeting of the Presidential Cabinet, Presidential Spokesperson Kalin said: It is impossible for any plan that disregards Turkey to be implemented in the eastern Mediterranean. In fact, this is one of the essential elements of many agreements we have reached with Libya over the past decade.
Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin made statements during a press conference at the Presidential Complex following the meeting of the Presidential Cabinet.
TURKEY-UK RELATIONS WILL CONTINUE IN A MORE INCLUSIVE MANNER
In the conference broadcast live, Presidential Spokesperson Kalin said: As you know, Mr. President has had a busy agenda. We have made a series of visits recently, last of which was to Geneva for the Global Refugee Forum. After that, Mr. President participated in the Kuala Lumpur Summit in Malaysia together with the heads of state and government of three other countries, and made remarks on the fundamental problems the Islamic world faces. And today, as you know, Mr. President held a phone call with Prime Minister of UK Boris Johnson. Mr. President conveyed his congratulations during the phone call, and also views on the steps to be taken in terms of our bilateral relations were exchanged. I can say that the UK side attaches an increasing importance to its relations with Turkey, in particular during the Brexit process and the period following it. They have already voiced it on every occasion. Therefore, I can say that Turkey-UK relations will continue in a more inclusive manner in the areas of trade, economy, security and of cooperation in defense industry after the Brexit process is completed.
THE REGIME ESCALATES VIOLATIONS IN IDLIB
Particularly, the ongoing developments in Syria, east of the Euphrates and in Idlib were among the important topics discussed at the meeting of the Presidential Cabinet. I would like to make a brief review about this issue. Firstly, the situation in Idlib remains to be of crucial importance. As you know, four consensuses were reached with four countries last year there, and the Idlib Agreement was made between Turkey, Germany, France and the Russian Federation during a meeting held in Istanbul under Mr. President's chairmanship, and the Russian side also approved the agreement following long negotiations. The agreement was implemented last year on a large scale, and the issue was brought into question from time to time with the regime's violations. Lastly, another ceasefire was agreed to last August. Within the framework of that ceasefire steps have been continued to be taken in order for the situation in Idlib to be preserved relatively calmer.
As you know, we have soldiers and 12 observation posts in that region. They essentially monitor the de-escalation agreement, i.e. the Idlib Agreement, and also take measures to ensure the security of civilians there. However, in the recent period, especially in the recent weeks, we see that the violations by the regime are on the rise. We have conveyed a clear message to the Russian side on this issue as well. Mr. President told Mr. Putin during a phone call held in Geneva that a ceasefire should be secured. However, no concrete step has unfortunately been taken concerning this issue. As you know, a delegation of ours was in Moscow yesterday, and held talks. Our delegation was informed that within the next 24 hours, that is, in this very moment, they would be striving to put an end to conflicts, to be precise, the regime's attacks. Obviously, we for the moment closely follow the process concerning the prevention of these attacks, and expect them to be stopped as soon as possible through a new ceasefire with a clear schedule and framework. This is our fundamental expectation from the Russian side. Otherwise, the Idlib Agreement will be violated, a new humanitarian tragedy will occur, a new wave of migration will begin towards Turkey and new civilian massacres will take place in case of the regime's intervention.
THE IDLIB ISSUE DOES NOT CONCERN ONLY TURKEY BUT ALSO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Another repercussion of this, another repercussion which is of vital importance, will be the sabotage of the political process. Therefore, we would like to underline this issue in order for its gravity to be comprehended and voiced accordingly. The Idlib issue does not only concern Turkey but also the international community. During the talks we hold, we tell our counterparts and interlocutors to take necessary steps and fulfill the responsibility that falls to them to maintain the agreement, protect civilians, and realize and sustain the political process, and we will continue to voice our expectations. However, we deem it necessary to remind that especially the Russian side has a greater responsibility here.
ANY ENGAGEMENT WITH PYD/YPG WOULD BE A DIRECT OR INDIRECT SUPPORT TO TERROR
Another process is going on east of the Euphrates. We can say that there is a relatively calm and stable environment of peace in the secure line we have established in Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad regions. However, the YPG/PYD terror in these areas continue without stopping. These terrorist acts sometimes take place as attacks on civilians and sometimes as returning to places they have withdrawn from. Obviously, this terrorist organization has not changed its main identity, and will not do it, either. As you know, offers have been made to us from time to time that 'Let us separate PYD and YPG from PKK, let them continue to exist as a political movement, as a Syria-based group'. Since we know the true character of this organization, we have pointed out that it would not be possible, and that it would be unnecessary and a waste of time to ask for the moon. And in fact as a latest development, another attack took place yesterday, as you know. And this attack has reaffirmed how correct this view of ours is. Within this context, we see from time to time that the U.S. and at times the Russian Federation have engaged in relations with YPG/PYD terrorist organization in different forms, supported them, directed them, built military bases for them and carried them here and there. Let me make it clear that any engagement with this terrorist organization would be a direct or indirect support to terror. We would like to stress that if such activities continue and if a mobility takes place towards our borders, we, as Turkey, will stand against all this.
THE MIGRATION ISSUE IS NOT SOLELY TURKEY'S RESPONSIBILITY
We from time to time hear, and note down, that some countries, including the ones from the Gulf as well, hold various contacts with terrorist ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, whose code name is Mazlum Kobani, and that they explore ways to use him against Turkey. Let us openly state that such attempts will not go unresponded. All the parties should take a clear stance against terror in order for the civil war raging on for nine years in Syria as well as the ongoing humanitarian tragedy and crisis to come to an end. An uncompromising stance should be taken regarding Syria's territorial integrity and political unity, as well. The violations by the regime and the attitude towards them by the countries that support the regime will continue to shape the future course of events. Therefore, this issue --be it the migration issue or the furthering of the political process-- is not solely Turkey's responsibility. If the international community is serious and sincere about this issue, it should fulfill its responsibility, put the Syrian people above their own minor national calculations, and exert efforts for the peace, welfare and serenity of the Syrian people. This is a point I would like to emphasize because there will take place critical developments, meetings and visits regarding this issue in the weeks to come.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO STAND BY THE LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT IN LIBYA
Obviously, another important issue is the ongoing developments in Libya. The civil war in Libya, which is monitored by the entire world, deeply saddens all of us and is of direct concern to us at the same time. The attacks of Haftar forces against the Government of National Accord of Libya, recognized by the international community and the United Nations, have been continuing almost without an interruption since April. Whenever we meet with our interlocutors there, they tell us that only a political solution is possible in Libya, and that any military solution is out of the question. However, everyone can see that different countries give different forms of military, political and financial supports to Haftar's side, i.e. to the wing targeting the legitimate government.
As you know, a Berlin process is going on under the roof of the United Nations. A process is underway within the framework of the Libya political consensus in order to reach a settlement without recourse to military means. We are also a part of this process. In this regard, Mr. President is also expected to attend, should there be convenient conditions, the leaders' meeting to be held under the UN roof. However, whilst the preparations for this meeting continue --slated for the second or third week of January-- it is tantamount to sabotaging this process to send Haftar more weapons, mercenaries or military support via front companies such as Wagner. The international community should give a very clear message to Haftar; he should put an immediate end to his attacks. A much bloodier civil war will otherwise be inevitable in Tripoli, Misrata, Sirte or elsewhere in Libya. We will continue to stand by and duly support the internationally-recognized legitimate government. It is out of the question for us to forsake the Libyan people in these difficult days.
WE MADE A TRANSPARENT AGREEMENT WITH LIBYA ON MARITIME JURISDICTION AREAS
As you know, we signed two agreements with the legitimate Libyan government on November 27. One of them was on security and military cooperation and the other was on maritime jurisdiction areas and continental shelf. We see that there are circles deeply disturbed by these two agreements. It is possible to still see the magnitude of the wave these agreements caused when you look at the reactions. We sometimes have difficulty in understanding it. It is not understandable that those circles, which do not react in such a strong manner when other countries sign such bilateral deals with Libya or when Libya signs with other countries, adopt such an attitude when Turkey makes it. We are talking about an agreement signed between two sovereign countries. We are talking about an agreement on mutual trust, cooperation and military training which does not pose a threat to third countries. However when you look at the uproar, you see certain unfair and ungrounded claims that Turkey will enter and occupy Libya and sabotage the peace process there. It is not difficult to guess the source of these allegations. I leave that to your and the public's judgement. Both the agreement on security and military cooperation and the one on maritime jurisdiction areas are the outcome of the effort to ensure with Libya our national interest from a win-win perspective. It benefits both Libya as much as Turkey.
We made a transparent agreement, whose articles and framework are clear, with Libya on maritime jurisdiction areas in terms of seismic researches and the exploration, operation and sharing of the energy resources discovered there. Therefore, normally it does not have any aspect that may disturb third parties. I also would like to note that no one reacts when other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, such as Egypt, Israel, Southern Cyprus and Greece, get together, make deals and hold meetings among themselves by totally excluding Turkey. They are talking about a pipeline that bypasses Turkey. They are assessing this economically and financially irrational, expensive and nearly�impossible-to-realize project just to exclude Turkey. However, they cannot take a step since they see that it is not economically feasible. This process has been ongoing for nearly a year. With all these taking place, there has not been a debate about them violating others' maritime jurisdiction areas. However, when we made such an agreement with Libya, all of a sudden certain allegations began to be voiced about Turkey acting against the international law.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ESTABLISH AN ENVIRONMENT OF PEACE AND STABILITY IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN BY LEAVING TURKEY OUT
Let me reiterate that it is impossible for any plan that disregards Turkey to be implemented in the eastern Mediterranean. In fact, this is one of essential elements of many agreements we have reached with Libya over the past decade. Continuity is essential for states. There were agreements reached during Kaddafi's term, and there are now two agreements reached with the current government. There are also other agreements that this government has reached with other countries such as Italy and France. While the legitimacy of those agreements is not questioned, no one has the right to question the legitimacy of the agreement Turkey has made. Yet, everyone should know as a general principle that it is impossible to establish an environment of peace, serenity and stability in the eastern Mediterranean by leaving Turkey out. Obviously, we see from time to time such criticisms as, 'Why is Turkey there?' or 'Why does Turkey take sides?', which we, to be honest, find it difficult to comprehend.
Source: Presidency of the Republic Of Turkey