Turkey’s top diplomat lambasted Thursday the U.S.-based Washington Post for making “terrorist propaganda” by publishing an article by Cemil Bayik, a so-called PKK terror group leader.
The article did not fall under the freedom of press and expression, and it is a “terrorist propaganda”, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a live interview on TRT Haber news channel.
Speaking about the agreement recently signed by the UN and PKK terrorist organization, he said that Turkey’s UN Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu lodged a written protest to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Cavusoglu said Guterres was shocked to learn that Bayik was wanted after Sinirlioglu showed the red notice issued for the founding PKK member.
“This is double standard and hypocrisy on counter terrorism,” stressed Cavusoglu, questioning how a fugitive — for whom red notice was issued — could travel to Switzerland.
“A head terrorist of the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by many countries, including the U.S., and which has brutally massacred tens of thousands of innocent people — has brazenly engaged in terrorist propaganda by using The Washington Post,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.
Russia must keep Bashar al-Assad regime under control
On the regime attacks in Idlib, northwestern Syria, Cavusoglu said Russia must keep the Bashar al-Assad regime under control over attacks in the region, mostly targeting the civilians, hospitals and schools.
He said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the current situation in Idlib at last week’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Stressing that radical groups were present in Idlib, Cavusoglu said: “We have been discussing the future of them [radical groups] with Russia, Iran or other actors.”
He added that Geir Pedersen, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, would visit Damascus in the coming days on the issue of establishing constitutional committee.
Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression would be expressly prohibited.
The regime, however, has consistently broken the terms of the ceasefire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone.
Turkey purchases S-400 missile system for its defense
Cavusoglu also highlighted that Turkey had officially appealed to Washington to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot missiles when President Donald Trump came to office.
He said that the answer just came to Turkey six months ago, two years after appealing.
“We tried to purchase them [Patriot missiles] for 10 years during the [Barack] Obama term. We weren’t able to get them, but we didn’t receive any response on the Patriots [systems] in the first two years of the Trump administration, either,” he added.
He reiterated that the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense systems were finalized and in the delivery process.
He noted that Turkey wanted to purchase S-400 missile systems to satisfy its defensive needs.
During last week’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Trump told him there would be no sanctions against Turkey after it received the S-400 defense systems, which are expected to be delivered later in July.
At the summit, Trump blamed the standoff on then-President Barack Obama’s refusal to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey, and said Turkey had not been treated fairly.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have escalated in recent months over Ankara’s purchase of S-400 systems, which Washington said will jeopardize Turkey’s role in the F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger sanctions.
‘Haftar has no sense of humanity’
Referring to the acts of East Libya-based military commander Khalifa Haftar, Cavusoglu said Haftar has “no sense of humanity” since he “relentlessly” targeted civilians and refugees in the camps.
He said detention of six Turkish citizens by the Haftar forces was an act of “banditry and piracy.”
Turkish sailors were released on Monday after being detained on June 30.
Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011 when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power — one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli — and a host of heavily armed militia groups.
Situation in East Mediterranean
Stressing that Turkey notified the UN and the EU over its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cavusoglu said all steps taken by Turkey is in compliance with international law.
He also highlighted that Turkey, as country with the longest continental coastline, has legitimate rights and vital interests in the East Mediterranean and that it has been fully exercising its sovereign rights over its continental shelf in accordance with international law.
Referring to the statements by the Greek Cypriots and threats of so-called arrest warrants for Turkish drilling ship Fatih’s crew, he said these threats are “meaningless” for Turkey.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations on May 3 this year in an area located 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of Cyprus island.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.