Turkey-US deal for Syria safe zone very good start: Turkish FM

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The agreement between Turkey and the U.S. to establish a safe zone in northern Syria could be seen as a “very good start,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.

“The establishment of a framework has been agreed on. It is important to set up an operation center for steps that will be taken from now on,” he said at a press conference on Aug. 8.

The minister called the consensus with the U.S. a “framework,” saying the future modalities of the deal will be studied at the joint operation center.

He stressed that Turkey will not allow the safe zone process that it is working on with the United States to be delayed and it to suffer the same fate as an agreement on the Syrian town of Manbij.

The Manbij roadmap was an agreement made between the two NATO allies last year, dictating a complete withdrawal of the YPG from the town. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization and accuses the U.S. of stalling clearing the group’s members from the town.

Turkey and the U.S. agreed on Aug. 7 to establish a joint operation center in Turkey to coordinate and manage a planned safe zone in northeast Syria, a move that appeared to reduce the chance of imminent Turkish military action.

The minister stressed that all the components of the YPG, including the PYD and PKK, should be removed from the region without suggestion that some are civil organizations.

The deal aims to maintain security in this region and then provide stability to the area, the minister said, noting that the next phase aims for the return of displaced Syrians to the safe zone.

Turkey was determined to unilaterally clear this region from terrorists, and the U.S. has seen this and stepped up to “make this together,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu stressed that the U.S. has to collect the weapons it gave to the YPG too.

Meanwhile, the minister said the leaders of the Astana process, Turkey, Iran and Russia, will meet in Turkey in early September.

Turkish and U.S. military officials have agreed that the safe zone in northern Syria will be a “peace corridor” for displaced Syrians longing to return home, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Aug. 7.

“Talks between Turkish and the U.S. military delegations regarding the establishment of a safe zone in the north of Syria were concluded,” the ministry said in a joint statement with the U.S. delegation.

“The delegations agreed on the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, to set up as soon as possible a joint operation center in Turkeyto coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together and that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and that any additional measures shall be taken for our displaced Syrian brothers to return to their country,” the statement added.

Çavuşoğlu praises EU commissioner’s term

Çavuşoğlu also said that the wisdom of EU commissioner for migration enabled Turkey and the EU to write success stories amid compelling challenges.

Çavuşoğlu hosted EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos at the 11th Ambassadors’ Conference.

He said Avramopoulos‘ successful term as the EU commissioner has come to an end but it is “way too early” for retirement.

“So we look forward to continue working with you after your term with the European Union,” he added.

The minister said European politicians usually focus on narrow political gains, instead of focusing on long term broader interests, and those politicians who appreciate Turkey‘s role for the EU are unfortunately fewer than before.

“Dimitri is definitely not one of them. He has been a sincere supporter of TurkeyEUrelations,” Çavuşoğlu said.

He also said it was a privilege to work with Avramopoulos on migration and other issues at a “very difficult period”.

“His wisdom and leadership enabled Turkey and the EU to write success stories on the face of compelling challenges,” the minister added.

‘Greece very important country’

Çavuşoğlu said Avramopoulos has also been a promoter of Turkish-Greek relations throughout his career.

“Greece is a very important country for us. We are neighbors, allies,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu said Ankara and Athens do have some problems and Turkey does not underestimate them, but the countries have to work together for the next generations.

“We can also explore the opportunities, it is all in our hands,” he added.

Hurriyet Daily News

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