Statement by Presidential Spokesperson Ambassador İbrahim Kalın

14.06.2017

Deputy Secretary General and Spokesperson of the Presidency Ambassador İbrahim Kalın held a press conference at the Presidential Complex.

Spokesperson Kalın stated:

“Hundreds of terrorists have been neutralized over the recent period. However, we also have had losses in the meantime. For example, last Friday, on June 9, we lost a music teacher of ours in a treacherous terrorist attack in the Kozluk district of Batman province. Music teacher Aybüke Yalçın lost her life as a result of this terrorist attack. Another name whose life the attack claimed was specialized sergeant Soner Fazlıoğlu. What is interesting here is that various political circles, media outlets and other interest groups, which try to present the PKK as a peace pigeon when it comes to its attacks, lapse into a heavy silence when these kinds of incidents take place.

We know that there are still efforts ongoing aimed at presenting the PKK, along with its Syrian extension PYD/YPG, as a legitimate power that is in fight against terrorism, as if these incidents had never happened. This is of course by no means acceptable. This situation proves that hypocrisy and double standards are applied in the fight against terror and shape the discourse in a general sense.

We will carry on our fight against terror determinedly. What is interesting is that the circles, which don’t recommend negotiations, moderation, etc. to their own governments and states in their fight against terror, give such advices as ‘start this or that initiative’ or ‘engage in talks with these or those’ when it comes to Turkey’s fight against terror. We have never seen or heard these same circles give such advices to their own governments concerning their fight against such terrorist organizations as al-Qaeda, DAESH, etc. On the other hand, we unfortunately see that this ambivalent attitude towards Turkey’s fight against terror is continuing.

Despite all this, Turkey will maintain its fight against terror in a resolute manner. I would like to take this opportunity to once again wish Allah’s mercy upon all our martyrs who lost their life in terrorist attacks and extend my condolences to their grieving families.

Another topic high on our agenda is the crisis centered around Qatar in the Gulf region which concerns us as well. As you know, Mr. President has been conducting a very intense telephone diplomacy since this crisis broke out. We have been exerting intensive efforts towards a resolution of this crisis in line with the spirit of Ramadan and the law of brotherhood that will serve the interest of all the relevant nations. Mr. President has been in a very intense telephone diplomacy, as has previously been shared with you. There will be phone calls with other regional leaders as well this week.

As you know, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi are going to Qatar today. They may also visit some other countries in the Gulf region. Our primary goal within the framework of our talks with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain is the resolution of this problem through negotiations and the settlement of the crisis without any further escalation. Because this crisis harms the region and the Islamic world. We today have to struggle with many problems such as DAESH, the ongoing war in Syria, the fight against terror, poverty, etc. While all these problems remain to be tackled, increasing the tension in the region over such crises amounts to wasting the means and resources of the region.”

We call on all the actors to make constructive contributions to the settlement of the crisis, preventing it from escalating any further. I must state that there is special role for Saudi Arabia here. As Mr. President has noted several times in his speeches, Saudi Arabia has the potential and capability to solve this crisis as a wise state and big brother of the region and also as a major actor. We know that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz is in a constructive attitude on this issue. Within this framework, we also have mobilized all our means and resources for the resolution of this issue at the initiatives of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and with our contributions.

All our efforts and endeavors are aimed at alleviating and minimizing this dispute and tension between two brotherly and friendly nations. Upon the adoption of some measures that also affect people’s daily lives in Qatar, various NGOs and institutions got into action in our country like in some other countries. Food shipments, in particular, have started so as to prevent any possible food shortage.

The process regarding the Turkish military base in Qatar, which actually has a two-year history, has been finalized upon its ratification at the parliament and its publication at the official gazette last week. The aim of this base is to ensure safety and stability of all the nations in the region as we have previously repeated many times. This base is not aimed at engaging in any military activity against any country. As I have said, in fact, this is a process that goes back all the way to 2014. The first agreement, that is the implementing agreement, was signed in April 2016. Of course, these international agreements must follow a certain procedure. In line with this procedure, the agreement in question was ratified at the parliament last week. We hope that this base will further strengthen relations between Turkey and Qatar in the fields of military and defence industry. Our hope and desire is the improvement of such relations with all the other gulf nations as well.

We hear from time to time such criticisms as ‘Why is Turkey setting up a military base in Qatar?’ As you know, some other countries, the US first and foremost, already have vast military bases in the region. What is more, when we first brought up the issue of establishing a military base in Qatar, we shared this with Saudi Arabia as well and expressed that we would launch a similar work there too if so wished.

In sum, we are in a constructive attitude on this issue. We will continue to do everything in our power for the resolution of this crisis. We see from time to time unnecessary comments made in the press which doesn’t provide any contributions to the settlement. It is of critical importance that everyone act responsibly regarding this issue. We will hopefully be able to conclude these delicate processes, which Mr. President, we, and our relevant friends have been conducting, in line with the spirit of Ramadan and will obtain a positive result together.

Another important issue regarding the region is the referendum decision of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government. It has been announced that a decision has been taken to hold a referendum in September on the Kurdish region’s independence. In his speech at the parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Mr. President properly expressed the issue putting it in a framework. Our stance on the issue is open and clear: IKRG’s referendum decision is wrong and it must be corrected. A move such as this violates Iraq’s territorial integrity and is contrary to the current constitution. This will be a step that has the potential to further deepen Iraq’s current political, economic, security and terror problems rather than bring solutions to them.

Of course, another critical issue for us is that according to the announcement, the referendum will cover Kirkuk, too. This presents a big question mark in fact. Because according to Iraq’s current constitution, Kirkuk is administratively affiliated with Baghdad, not within the boundaries of the Kurdish region. Holding such a referendum forcefully, so to speak, will do no good but to increase the tension in the region, particularly in Kirkuk. Hereby, I would like to underline that we are following the ongoing process, especially in Kirkuk, very closely. We hope they withdraw their referendum decision as soon as possible.”

As you know, there is a struggle centering in Mosul carried out against DAESH. We have been receiving various reports and news on the progress of the operation. I would like to underline that Turkey is prepared to do its due in the reconstruction of Mosul after DAESH. Because, there will be a lot of work to do in Mosul, Tal Afar, Sinjar and other areas after they have been saved from DAESH.

Clearing DAESH terrorists from these places will not be sufficient. It is of great importance that conditions that created the DAESH terror in the first place be eliminated so that DAESH will not come back under another name or in another form months or years after it is defeated. At this point, it is very important to win over, treat fairly and meet the basic needs of Sunni Arabs there.

We would like to express that we are ready to act in cooperation with the international community in the reconstruction of the cities, Mosul in particular, that have been devastated during these operations. We are in close contact with Iraqi authorities regarding this matter.

Lastly friends, there is the issue of Syria pertaining to the foreign policy. As you know, the ceasefire process, launched at the initiatives of Turkey and Russia last December, has entered a new period following Mr. President’s meeting with President Putin in Sochi on 3 May. An agreement was reached on creating de-escalation zones. Its military models are being worked on right now. Detailed works are being conducted on who will settle in which region. A joint working group has already been formed. It is a process, in which Turkey, Iran and Russia are involved as guarantor countries.

Our efforts regarding Syria have been aimed from the very beginning at stopping clashes, ensuring a political transition process and delivering humanitarian aid. The de-escalation zones are a step taken to this end. We are aware of the difficulties, caused by the regime in the field. We are aware that the regime has violated many times the ceasefire that came into effect last December, and that it continues to violate human rights and commit war crimes. At this point, we continue our calls on Russia and Iran to use their influence over the regime and to pressure the regime more. When the Foreign Minister of Iran came here last week, we openly and clearly discussed the Syrian issue as well as Qatar.

There is an ongoing Raqqa operation, led by the United States. We have clearly expressed, as Mr. President said at the meeting at the White House, that we will not take part in this operation if PYD and YPG elements are involved. The operation was launched on 2-3 June and is underway. As Mr. President nicely formulated, we wished them well and left them alone. They can do as they wish in Raqqa. However, we would like to reiterate that we still have fundamental concerns, which focus on two points.

First, we have seen the statements that the YPG, PYD elements would withdraw from the places they went to and leave them to Arabs have no reality at all. We have the Manbij example before us. Although it was expressed many times at the highest level –Mr. Obama was the US President then- that PYD, YPG elements would withdraw from Manbij upon the completion of the operations, it did not happen. We know that similar situations happened in Tel Abyad and other places. If a similar situation emerges in Raqqa, as well, it will pose a grave risk to Syria’s future.

The second point is the assurances given to us that weapons given to the PYD and YPG elements will not be used against Turkey. We want to have a well-intentioned attitude on this matter but we seriously have difficulty understanding that the US engage in, trust a terrorist organization so much and take seriously its promises. We have a very clear stand on this matter. Turkey is not and will not be involved in this operation. However, Turkey will take the necessary steps by using its own national means and capabilities without taking permission from anyone in case of a situation that threatens its national interests and border security. Turkey, without any hesitation, will take steps to protect its own national interests by conducting the necessary coordination.

Following the July 15 coup attempt, some made predictions, projections that Turkish economy would suffer a serious blow and slow down. We saw that some credit rating agencies overtly took a negative political attitude in this direction. However, the latest numbers once again have shown how groundless these predictions or speculations are. Turkish economy has grown by 5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, which is very significant. There is no other economy in Europe that has achieved such numbers. When you look at the global ranking or G20 countries, these numbers are very close to the numbers from China and India. BIST 100 index also has seen a record and exceeded 100 thousand points. BIST 100 index has become one of the 3 top-grossing exchanges in 2017.

I would like to share that Mr. President closely follows and has raised at the last Council of Ministers meeting the fight against drugs. As you know, drugs are one of the primary financial resources of terrorism. Drug trafficking is a serious problem we are faced with across the world. Having seen the recent reports on increasing drug abuse among the youth, Mr. President gave an instruction at the last Council of Ministers meeting that this issue be closely monitored necessary measures be taken. Our Interior Ministry, Health Ministry, National Education Ministry and all relevant ministries have initiated comprehensive efforts. Our goal is to prevent our youth from being poisoned.

The last topic I want to address is this; the anniversary of July 15 nears. Certain remembrance events are being planned on the occasion of the first anniversary of July 15 on the order of Mr. President, under the auspices of the Presidency and coordination of our relevant institutions, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies. At this point, these events are planned to be continued for a week between 10-16 July.

The eid nears. We never forget the oppressed people of Gaza and in the world. A 15-thousand-ton aid ship is being prepared now to make the children of Gaza happy during Eid. I believe it will set sail at the weekend. And the aid will be distributed to our brothers and sisters in Gaza during the Eid as a gift of the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people.

Question: Yesterday, Mr. President said he would have a teleconference with President Macron of France and Emir of Qatar. Has this taken place? It was also expressed that a phone conversation with US President Trump would take place in the upcoming days. Do you have any news about that? And also, is it possible that Mr. President pay a visit to Qatar in the near future?

Spokesperson Kalın: A phone conversation between Mr. President and President of France and Emir of Qatar is being planned. It probably will take place over the next days. As you know, there was parliamentary elections in France and Mr. Macron was busy with that. But I believe we will do that in the upcoming days.

There may be a phone conversation in the upcoming days with Mr. Trump regarding Qatar. Because, our goal is to include all actors in the process in a constructive way. There may be talks with other heads of state of both Islamic countries and Western countries, as well. We do not rule out any possibility at the moment in this busy traffic.

Will Mr. President pay a visit to Qatar? Well, it is possible for us to plan for such a visit if we think it will contribute and if a need for such a visit presents itself.

Question: Turkey has taken a clear stand regarding the Iraqi Regional Government’s decision to hold a referendum. There are claims that Turkey will impose sanctions such as closing the Habur Border Gate. How do you comment?

Spokesperson Kalın: There is no such thing on our agenda at the moment. We are discussing this matter with Iraqi Kurdish officials and also with officials in Baghdad. Our primary goal is to correct this mistake through talks and negotiations. We will continue our efforts regarding this matter. It is out of the question that we take such an attitude like imposing sanctions or closing the border gate without first sitting down and talking with them. We have good relations with the Iraqi Kurdish Administration. We will do our due to resolve this problem on the basis of our good relations in order to go back on this harmful and unnecessary step that will cause more harm than good. We hope the other side will show a positive attitude, as well. Because, as you know, Mr. Abadi made a statement yesterday and Baghdad is against this decision, too. Regional countries also made statements and they are against it, too. Other countries made statements. It is not reasonable at all to go down such a path knowingly. Therefore, we will continue to offer the necessary advices on this matter.”