After supporters of the PKK terror group recently held demonstrations in France and Germany, the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned the envoys of both countries to lodge a protest, Türkiye’s top Turkish diplomat said on Tuesday.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency’s Editors' Desk at the agency’s headquarters in the capital Ankara, Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “We have summoned both ambassadors to the ministry ... Our missions in those countries (France and Germany) have also made contacts."
Cavusoglu said that a diplomatic note stressing not to allow the repeat of such demonstrations was handed to both envoys.
He announced that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be visiting Türkiye with a military delegation on June 8.
Cavusoglu said that a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food will be among the topics to be discussed during Lavrov’s visit to Türkiye.
He also said that there is a possibility of bringing Ukrainian and Russian sides to a negotiating table, even at the leaders’ level as part of Türkiye's “negotiation efforts.”
Sweden, Finland's NATO bids
About Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids, Cavusoglu said there are certain conditions that both countries must fulfill.
"Prior to the Ukraine war, we have always supported NATO's expansion at all foreign ministers’ meetings. Similarly, we supported this policy in the case of countries such as (North) Macedonia and Montenegro, but now we are abstaining due to support given to terrorism by the two countries that want to become members of NATO," he said.
He added that Türkiye maintains a dialogue with Sweden and Finland in line with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's directives.
Citing a consultation meeting held between the delegations of Türkiye, Sweden and Finland, Cavusoglu said that Ankara handed a letter clearly stating its expectations from the two countries aiming to join the military alliance.
"Even at a time when consultations (between Türkiye, Sweden and Finland) are ongoing, these terror groups are demonstrating against Türkiye with their rags. These activities of the terror organization, which is on the (terror) lists of the EU and NATO, are allowed. On the other hand, FETO (Fetullah Terrorist Organization) is active in these countries," he added.
Cavusoglu also recalled Sweden and Finland's sanctions on arms exports and defense industry products to Türkiye which were imposed after Ankara launched operations against YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria.
Sweden and Finland need to understand Türkiye's security concerns, Cavusoglu stressed.
Emphasizing that these two countries need to make amendments to their counter-terrorism laws, he stressed that Türkiye's position will not change unless amendments are made.
Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO recently – a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people. The YPG/PYD is PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
Türkiye to 'eliminate all terror threats'
On a possible anti-terror operation in northern Syria, the Turkish foreign minister said that his country will "eliminate all terror threats at home and abroad – in Syria and wherever it is."
Noting that there are terror attacks from Syria toward and inside Türkiye, Cavusoglu said: "We need to eliminate terrorism from these regions."
Citing Türkiye’s separate agreements with the US and Russia on the elimination of terrorists in northern Syria back in October 2019, Cavusoglu said commitments made to Ankara were not fulfilled by both countries.
In October 2019, Russia expressed commitment to removing the terrorist group from Tal Rifaat and Manbij after reaching an agreement with Türkiye during Operation Peace Spring.
Moscow also promised that the terrorists would be removed 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the border on the M4 road and in the area outside the Operation Peace Spring area.
Likewise, then-US Vice President Mike Pence pledged to Türkiye that the YPG/PKK terror group would withdraw from the region of Operation Peace Spring.
Cavusoglu said terrorists in northern Syria have increased their attacks on Türkiye's operation zones as well as on the civilians in the region.
"We will not be tied down while these attacks and threats increasingly continue. It is our duty to eliminate terrorist threats wherever it may be, whether at home or abroad, in Iraq or Syria. It is our duty to our nation, a matter of national security," he added.
Cavusoglu said that Türkiye continues to voice the legal basis of its operations, noting that Article 51 of the UN Charter gives the right to self-defense.
The YPG/PKK terror group disrupts the stability of the region by all means, he stressed.
'Greece violated status of eastern Aegean islands'
About the militarization of eastern Aegean islands by Greece, Cavusoglu said Athens violated the status of the islands and called on Athens to demilitarize them "otherwise, a debate on sovereignty will begin."
Noting that Greece initially denied its militarization activities in the eastern Aegean islands, the Turkish minister said Athens later confirmed its activities claiming that "there is a threat coming from Türkiye."
"We sent two letters to the UN. In the first one, we said that Greece is arming these islands and it is against two agreements. In the second, we have explained in more detail its legal aspects. Greece has violated the status of these islands, it must demilitarize the islands. Otherwise, a debate on sovereignty will begin," Cavusoglu said.
Athens' militarization of the islands in eastern Aegean is in violation of both the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the Paris Treaty of 1947.
Despite such international agreements and treaties, Greece remains keen on stationing armed forces on eastern Aegean islands, especially the Dodecanese islands and small nearby islets, including islands and islets very close to Türkiye’s western coast, including some within sight of the shore.
Türkiye has been reiterating its objections in this regard by making the case to various international organizations and institutions that they should take steps on the issue and halt Greece’s actions along these lines.
Türkiye filed a complaint about Greece’s actions that violate the demilitarized status of the eastern Aegean islands in a July 2021 letter to the UN chief.
To a question about a potential F-16 sale to Türkiye by the US, Cavusoglu said the US Congress is inclined toward providing Türkiye with jets.
"It depends on the timing of the agreement on technical details to be reached between military authorities in the coming days. After that, the official request will also be made," he said.
A strategic mechanism was established between Türkiye and the US upon the request of Washington, he said, adding: "We held the first deputy minister-level meeting here (in Ankara), and then we gathered in New York at the ministerial level. The aim of this mechanism is to overcome and solve all these problems."
A $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and modernization kits for 80 F-16 C/D models that the Turkish Air Forces has in its inventory.
The Turkish government requested the F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021.
Cavusoglu also spoke about relations with Israel and said there should be a fair sharing between Israel and Palestine on a possible Exclusive Economic Zone of Gaza.