Turkey’s military presence in Qatar serves the stability and peace not only for Qatar but the whole Gulf region, the Turkish president said.
“No one except for those making plans of chaos should be disturbed by Turkey and the Turkish military presence in the Gulf,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview published in The Peninsula on Thursday, the day after his working visit to the Gulf country.
Speaking to Khalid Mubarak Al-Shafi, editor-in-chief of the Qatari daily, he called the Turkey-Qatar Combined Joint Force Command “a symbol of brotherhood, friendship, solidarity between the two countries,” adding those who run ill-propaganda on the base are not well-intentioned.
Touching on Turkey’s position in Syria, Erdogan reiterated that the country has no design on anyone’s territory and is never permanent in the civil war-torn country. “When the crisis is permanently resolved, our presence in Syria will come to an end.”
With nearly 911 kilometers (566 miles) border with Syria, Turkey is one of the countries that most affected by the conflict that began in 2011, he said and stressed that no state would allow a terrorist organization to remain across its borders.
“Thanks to the efforts exerted by Turkey and the Free Syrian Army, stability and peace have been restored in regions once associated with terrorism, cruelty and oppression,” he said, adding so far over 400,000 refugees returned home.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).
Responding to a question on Turkey-US relations, Erdogan said Turkey will continue to work together with the US in all platforms, including NATO, on such issues as fighting against terrorism, democracy and termination of conflicts.
“Although we have taken separate positions with the United States on various issues from time to time, we have placed great importance on not undermining the strategic partnership between us,” he said, however pointing out the strained Turkish-US relations for a number of reasons such as Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles and counter-terrorism operations in northern Syria against the YPG/PKK, a terror group the US has supported as an enemy of Daesh/ISIS, and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the ringleader of the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
‘Legitimacy will succeed in Libya’
On Libya, Erdogan said that the Government of National Accord is the only legitimate structure in Libya and the legitimacy will succeed there while the putschists will lose.
“In line with the legitimate government’s request, the Turkish Armed Forces are carrying out training and support activities in Libya. The putschist Haftar, on the other hand, has neither legitimacy nor international recognition,” Erdogan stated.
Libya has been torn by a civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement. But efforts for a long-term political settlement have failed due to a military offensive by forces loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
Diplomatic efforts have been underway in recent weeks to resolve the Libyan conflict following victories by the Libyan army against Haftar’s militias.
Addressing the Eastern Mediterranean issue, Erdogan said: “Those who see our determination in the Eastern Mediterranean and realized that they cannot make our country step back with empty threats and blackmails has eventually paid heed to our calls for dialogue.”
Recalling that on all platforms Turkey mentioned that it will not accept any solution that disregards Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Erdogan said his country will resolutely continue to protect and defend its rights and interests.
Tensions have been running high for months as Greece has disputed Turkey’s rights to energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Ankara sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the TRNC.
Turkey says that Greece’s maritime territory claims in the region, based on small islands near the Turkish coast, are in defiance of the international law.
Fresh clashes between Azerbaijan, Armenia
Turning to the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Karabakh, the Turkish leader said: “Armenia’s attempt to show Turkey within the conflict through various tricks after its heavy defeat during its last occupation effort has been proof of its confinement and despair.”
Indifference of the international community for years in the face of these massacres and invasions play role in Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands for nearly 30 years, Erdogan said.
“[…] Azerbaijan then took action to save its occupied territories and is now reclaiming the regions that Armenia captured through banditry.”
Relations have been strained since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory in Azerbaijan.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 but international calls to halt fighting have gone unanswered. Armenia has continued attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces, who are the rightful owners of the occupied region.
The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire was agreed to in 1994.
Turkey has condemned Armenian occupation, and vowed support for Azerbaijan.
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