In Turkey / Türkiye

Emine Kart, Hurriyet Daily News, August 25, 2016

Kati Piri, European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey (L), and Elmar Brok, chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

Kati Piri, European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey (L), and Elmar Brok, chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee

ANKARA – During a visit aimed at expressing the EU institutions’ solidarity with the Turkish people following the failed coup attempt on  July 15, a delegation of leading members of the European Parliament have voiced their support for the Jarablus operation in Syria. The delegation, composed of Elmar Brok, chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey, held a joint press conference at the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey on Aug. 25.

Speaking at the joint press conference, the two also responded to questions from reporters.

‘We all stand together with Turkey in its fight against ISIL’

When reminded of the handicaps of the Jarablus operation that were expressed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and whether they addressed the reservations of these parties during their meetings with the CHP and the HDP, Piri said: “We know this is being done with support of the Americans, with air support, which I think fighting ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIL] is something where we all stand together with Turkey. Of course troops have all not gone over the border. It is [Turkish] Special Forces and tanks which are there with the help of the Syrian democratic opposition.

“I can understand of course the concerns that are there but in principle you have heard also that the main European countries today supported this action and we very much welcome that Turkey is stepping up this fight against ISIS. We have seen I think over the last weeks, last months also, in Turkey we have seen artillery being fired from Syria to Turkey. [It has been] terrible.

“We have seen of course ISIS attacks, [with] several ones taking place in several places in Turkey, so it is clear that it [ISIL] is a threat to Turkey; you have seen it is clearly a threat to the European Union. So, as long as it is a coordinated effort, and [because] they are threat to the European Union, we follow the developments very closely.”

‘Complicated’ operation

Brok was asked to elaborate on his own expression of “certain complications or complexities regarding the Jarablus operation” and whether, through this expression, he referred to a possible clash between the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Turkish troops during the operation.

“I think it is all complicated for a German politician. It is much too complicated. Let’s see that: First of all, we welcome that Turkey takes measures against ISIS, as it is a common interest. Secondly, we welcome that the Syrian Kurds fight against ISIS. Thirdly – perhaps it is not good in this situation – we have been concerned that, you might be by one side, or the other side, they may increase their region of influence outside the traditional zone of influence. And fourthly, that the Turkish government tries to make the connection between one and three. It is easy like that, as I understand,” he responded.

Secure zone

Brok was reminded of the fact that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has long been eyeing the creation of a secure zone inside Syria. He was asked whether the Jarablus operation might lead the EU to review their view of such a request.

“We do hope that this does not [pose] a real change in the whole game then… because we believe that in cooperation with [the] Free Syrian [Army – FSA] and with the Kurds in Syria, and with the alliance shared by the United States, this ongoing situation [has] such a common interest to all of us. There is no interest in [a] change in the game,” he responded.


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