We stand ready to cooperate with all parties to make Mediterranean a sea of peace: Kalın
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın made statements and answered reporters’ questions during a press conference at the Presidential Complex following the meeting of the Presidential Cabinet.
Holding a press conference following the meeting of the Presidential Cabinet, Presidential Spokesperson Kalın, in answer to a question on Turkey-Libya agreement on maritime jurisdiction areas said: "We have clearly stated that we can cooperate with all parties to make the Mediterranean a sea of peace. The only exception here is the Southern Cyprus, which we do not recognize officially. However, we have noted that we can conduct joint work with other countries on determining maritime jurisdiction areas, continental shelf, seismic research, drilling and in other areas."
In the conference broadcast live, Presidential Spokesperson Kalın said: "Today, Mr. President, during his opening speech, made remarks on the international summits and meetings he attended recently. As you know, following the recent U.S. visit, a visit was made to Qatar, and after the meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee in this country, we made a visit to the United Kingdom and held a quadrilateral summit there. The first meeting of this quadrilateral summit, in which three big European countries, together with Turkey, hold consultations, as a mechanism, on Syria and Libya in particular, was held in London, and pursuant to a decision reached there the second meeting will be held in Istanbul in February, and an agreement was also reached on operating this mechanism more effectively. Obviously, the main agenda was the NATO Leaders Meeting during the UK visit, and Mr. President, as you also followed, put forth Turkey’s theses and views on NATO and outlined NATO’s vision and its perception of security and threat concerning today and tomorrow. I can say that the meeting was quite a success for us.
Especially Syria, Libya, anti-terror fight, cyberattacks, hybrid threats and similar issues were discussed in detail there within the context of NATO and within the framework of the spirit of solidarity in the alliance. We will obviously closely follow these issues in the days ahead.
"Global aspects of the refugee crisis will be addressed at global refugee forum"
Mr. President is also expected to co-chair the Global Refugee Forum next week as part of his foreign visits. Particularly, the global aspects and regional repercussions of the refugee crisis will be thoroughly addressed during the forum to be hosted by the United Nations Refugee Agency. Mr. President will co-chair the forum, which will also be attended by the Secretary-General of the UN, the President of Costa Rica, the President of Pakistan and representatives of other countries, and they will discuss in detail how to find a global solution to the refugee crisis. And after this forum, as you know, Mr. President will visit Malaysia, and a summit, during which main issues on the agenda of the Muslim world will be addressed, will held with the participation a group of Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia.
Presidential culture and arts grand awards
The 2019 Presidential Culture and Arts Grand Awards have been granted to late Nuri Pakdil in the field of literature, to Mazhar-Fuat-Özkan, known as MFÖ in the field of music, to Mesut Uçakan in the field of cinema, to Devrim Erbil in the field of painting, to Fuat Başar in the field of traditional arts, to Doğan Kuban in the field of architecture, to Ahmet Yaşar Ocak in the field of social sciences, and the Loyalty Award has been granted to late Haluk Dursun, who passed away recently. We will inshallah hold the ceremony tomorrow here with the participation of those who are alive and the relatives and representatives of those who passed away. Let me underline that this is of great importance in terms of sharing the value attached to culture and arts with the society.
"Comprehensive works for the safe return of refugees continue"
Obviously, both our and the world’s politics are engaged with the recent developments in Syria and Libya. As you know, there are two important agreements we have reached with the U.S. and the Russian Federation after Operation Peace Spring in Syria. We continue to closely follow the developments especially on the ground after these agreements, one of which was reached on October 17 and the other on October 23. As you know, our works to entirely remove the terrorists from here and to establish a safe zone on a 444-kilometer line, which can be extended to the west but primarily from east of the Euphrates to the Iraqi border, continue. The works concerning this issue continue now primarily in Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, the area of our 'Operation Peace Spring'.
Concurrently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and other relevant units of Turkey continue their comprehensive works in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the establishment of a safe zone and safe return of refugees. We will have the opportunity to address this issue with both the Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Refugees during the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on Monday. As we stressed at the outset, the return of refugees will be carried out by three criteria set by the United Nations. We have been carrying out a work which will enable the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees. The open-door policy, which we have pursued so far, has not changed. It is out of the question for us to adopt any policy of forcefully sending people to the places they don’t want. Other countries may resort, all they want, to other methods or may implement policies contrary to human rights or international law and agreements; yet, we, as the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish people, will continue to stand by the oppressed, wronged and those in need. However, let us reiterate that the refugee issue is a global problem and all the stakeholders need to assume responsibility in burden sharing.
Phone call with president Putin of Russia
We, of course, still have concerns about the terrorist organization PYD/YPG’s presence and activities on the ground. We continue to follow this issue in coordination with the U.S. and Russia. In this regard, Mr. President will have a phone call with Mr. Putin shortly, at 7.30 p.m. They will discuss in detail the developments in Syria, especially the east of the Euphrates, including Kobane, Manbij and Qamishli, as well as Idlib. The developments in Libya are also of importance and will be on the agenda of the phone call.
"The issue of Syria will be settled through a political transition process"
Mr. Putin will visit Turkey on January 8 but before the visit, we will have the opportunity to review the situation in Syria once more in this phone call. We keep up the hard work so as to initiate the political transition process in the country. We fully support the Constitutional Committee but the last meeting of the Committee didn’t yield the desired outcomes mostly due to the obstructions originating from the regime. We strongly condemn the regime’s steps aimed at demoting and undermining the Constitutional Committee. This table of negotiation was formed in such a manner as to embrace all the Syrian elements. It functions under the auspices and umbrella of the United Nations and includes representatives both from the regime and the opposition. Therefore, the regime must absolutely refrain from steps that would destroy this platform, which seeks peace and political stability. We have shared our opinions on this aspect both with the Russian Federation and Iran and will continue to do so. That is the case because the issue of Syria will be settled definitely through a political transition process.
We are aware that the regime tries to disrupt the works of the Constitutional Committee because it acts on the concern that the binding resolutions of the Committee might not be in its favor. Once the Constitutional Committee wraps up its works, the next phase will be elections in Syria, which means that the will of the Syrian people will become visible should transparent and free elections be held and, as a result, an embracing, transparent and democratically-legitimate structure will emerge to govern Syria in the future. This, we know very well, is what the regime tries to avoid. What is essential here is to pave the way for conditions which would enable the Syrian people, whether they be in Syria or abroad, to project their will in the ballot boxes in a transparent and free manner. We will keep the hard work to this end in the period ahead, as well.
"We will increasingly continue our efforts for the political process in Libya to be advanced under UN"
I would like to say something about Libya, as well. We see that the Haftar forces have recently been intensifying their attacks against Tripoli. As you know, these attacks are targeting the Libyan Central Government recognized by the international community -I mean the council headed by Fayez Al Sarraj. They are also against the Abu Dhabi Agreement, reached last April by Haftar and Al Sarraj.
As you know, a series of meetings were held in Berlin. I attended four of them. I could not attend the meeting yesterday due to the busy schedule here – a Libya summit will be held in Berlin at leaders’ level in the next phase- the issue was discussed in detail there. We have clearly expressed our views since the beginning. It is of the essence that all return to their original positions in April. If a ceasefire is to be achieved and the political process is to be advanced in Libya, Haftar supporters must withdraw to the positions they were in April. It is evident that not result can be achieved through conflict or by sending weapons or mercenaries to the Haftar side. Therefore, we will increasingly continue our efforts for the political process in Libya to be advanced under UN. As you know, there are many actors in Libya. We will continue our works for all relevant actors to act on a reasonable and legitimate basis. Mr. President voiced that during the NATO Summit and he will continue to raise this in the period ahead.
Presidential Spokesperson Kalın also answered reporters’ questions during the press conference
Question: "It is reported that a sanctions bill against Turkey was adopted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. How do you comment?
And also, Erdoğan voiced that troops can be deployed to Libya on condition that such a request comes from Libya. Talks are ongoing with Libya. Is there any such request from Libya?
"The process about the s-400s will continue"
Presidential Spokesperson Kalın: "We are closely following the process in the Congress. Let me clearly say that it will not affect our purchase and usage of the S-400s. The process about the S-400s will continue whether the bill is adopted by the congress or not. Surely, the bill may be adopted by the Senate. Then it will go to the U.S. President. There are 12 articles of the CAATSA. The U.S. President shall choose at least 5 of them. Which articles Mr. Trump will choose? There is a process ahead. We all appreciate that Mr. Trump is well-intentioned here. He voiced that publicly before the press and also he reaffirmed that during his talks with Erdoğan. He does not want the act to be put into effect. However, he will be bound to do so in case the bill is adopted by the Congress, which is understandable. However, The U.S. President will choose the articles of the sanctions act. We will see that when we get there. As I said, the members of the Congress seem to have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the facts. We have on numerous occasions said that their concerns can be addressed through a technical work but they are, with insistence, avoiding such a work. They say the matter is done and dusted, which we cannot accept. Our specialists’ views on the matter are crystal clear.
Agreements between Turkey and Libya
About Libya, as you know two agreements were signed with Libya on November 27 in Istanbul: one was on maritime jurisdiction areas and the other one was on military and security cooperation. The agreement on maritime jurisdiction areas is a new one. It caused great uproar. Still, reactions continue to be conveyed, which we find difficult to understand because it is unacceptable that other countries react with uproar to an agreement made by two neighboring countries in the Mediterranean. According to the international maritime law of the UN, littoral states of the same sea can make bilateral, trilateral quadrilateral agreements. As a matter of fact, we saw that Israel, Egypt, Greece and Southern Cyprus held trilateral-quadrilateral meetings hand made deals in order to confine us to the shores of Antalya in the Mediterranean. We have clearly stated that we can cooperate and find an agreement with all parties to make the Mediterranean a sea of peace. The only exception here is the Southern Cyprus, which we do not recognize officially. However, we have noted that we can conduct joint work with other countries on determining maritime jurisdiction areas, continental shelf, seismic research, drilling and in other areas. This was the first agreement.
The second agreement was on military and security cooperation. This is an updated version of a previously made agreement –if my memory serves me rightly, it was made in 2011 or 2012. Its scope has been widened. According to this agreement, if the Libyan Government requests Turkey to send troops, the agreement covers that. There is no such request at the moment and we hope that they do not have to do so. We hope the clashes there comes to an end soon and a ceasefire is achieved. In case of such a request, Erdoğan, referring to an article in that agreement, noted that it has a conventional basis. We know that some will be disturbed by that. However, as long as a security agreement between two countries do not pose a threat to a third country, which this agreement certainly do not. It is clear that it will significantly contribute to taking a step that will stop the attacks against Libya’s legitimate government and achieve domestic peace.