Ankara has described French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent statement that Turkey’s ongoing military operation into northern Syria should not turn into an “invasion” as evidence of a “crooked view.”
“If France is interpreting this issue as an [invasion operation], we need to assess what they have done in Syria accordingly,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters at a joint press conference with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Jan. 31.
“This is a crooked idea from the start. The whole world knows that Turkey is not acting with an invasive mind. They should know it too,” he said.
Yıldırım was responding to a question about Macron’s statement on the Turkish Armed Forces’ “Operation Olive Branch” into Afrin in northern Syria in a bid to clear the area of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“If the operation becomes more than fighting a potential terrorist threat on the Turkish border and turns into an invasion operation, we would have a real problem with that,” he said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Jan. 31.
Macron stressed the need for discussions between European and NATO allies over the operation, vowing to speak with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“With respect to the stability and protection of borders, Turkey has some security-related expectations. But we cannot build security without respecting the sovereignty of Syria against an enemy that is not DAESH,” he said, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The French president also signaled the establishment of a “broader framework” to bring about a solution to the Syrian question, saying the recent Russia-led Sochi talks have not yielded any result.
Macron told Le Figaro that he would like to work with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Egypt to develop an inclusive mechanism to resolve the problem and he would work to convince Turkey and Russia to this end.