In an interview with German Bild, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke about Turkey – EU relations and the country’s moves in Syria and Libya.
Turkey’s foreign minister has indicated in the interview that the European Union has not yet paid even half of the 6 billion euros it had pledged to Ankara, to help deal with the refugee issue following the civil war in Syria.
The EU has not fully fulfilled its promises as part of the 2015 agreement where both sides reached an agreement on the refugee crisis and said the Union has not yet paid the initial EUR 3 billion that should have been disbursed by the end of 2016, Cavusoglu stressed.
The Turkish Foreign Minister also said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel played an important role in signing the refugee agreement and this created a kind of “jealousy” in some EU member states.
Welcoming Germany’s courage and support for the refugee issue, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the EU-Turkey agreement significantly reduced the number of persons who entered Europe illegally.
“Prior to the conclusion of the agreement, up to 7,000 refugees were fleeing Turkey for Greece on a daily basis”, he said, adding that about 57 refugees have entered the Greek islands daily since the signing of the agreement. He did not fail to mention that some countries of Central and Eastern Europe did not want to embrace the refugees.
However, promises for an upgrade of the EU – Turkey Customs Union were not fulfilled, according to Cavusoglu.
He went on to say that although the promises were not fulfilled, Turkey remains committed to continuing the migration agreement with the EU.
Referring to the approximately 3.5 million Turks living in Germany, Cavusoglu said Turkey views these people as a bridge linking the two countries and Ankara supports the Turks’ integration to the German community.
On the other hand, however, he expressed his concern about the support provided to Gulen’s supporters and PKK terrorist groups fleeing to Germany.
The Turkish Foreign Minister welcomed the German initiative to host the Berlin Summit, where the ceasefire in Libya was discussed in an effort to achieve peace. The forces of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and those affiliated with General Khalifa Haftar are fighting for control of territory and critical infrastructures.
Cavusoglu noted that the Government of National Accord (GNA) said it would comply with the joint statement issued after the meeting, while Haftar’s side did not give a positive or negative response.
Asked about Turkey’s interest in Libya, Cavusoglu said peace and stability were the main incentives for Ankara, adding that it had reached a security agreement with a government that has also been recognized by the UN. He noted that Turkey has deployed a limited number of military advisers in Tripoli.
Referring to the Assad regime and its allies continuing their attacks in the northwestern town of Idlib, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing their homes and gather near the Turkish border.
Cavusoglu, for his part, said Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime preferred a military solution to a political solution, while Turkey believed in the importance of political negotiations for resolving the conflict.
Recalling statements by German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on the creation of an international safe zone in Syria, Cavusoglu said Turkey did not object to the proposal, but highlighted the challenges.
He also noted that some 372,000 Syrians had returned to their homes after Turkish counterterrorism operations in northern Syria against the YPG, which is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group in Turkey.
According to Cavusoglu, Turkey hosts 3.6 million displaced Syrians and about 350,000 of them are of Kurdish origin.
“Have you ever wondered why these Kurds do not want to return to the area controlled by the YPG? The West has a double standard in this context”, he noted.
Cavusoglu stressed that the YPG’s terrorist group changed the demographic structure in Syria, while Turkey fought only against terrorist organizations trying to split the country./ibna