Chairman of the Syrian Democratic Council Rezan Hiddo said that the council is awaiting for the reaction of Syria and Russia to Turkey’s alleged training of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants to launch an operation in the Northern Syrian city of Afrin, in the wake of the US’ decision to arm the Syrian Kurds. “According to the received intel, Turkey is training FSA forces in order to carry out an operation in Afrin. Turkey decided to conduct the operation after the United States made the decision to supply weapons to the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey cannot conduct ground operations in Kobani and Qamishli, as there are US troops there, but there are none in Afrin, that is why Turkey plans to carry out the operation here… We are waiting for the reaction of the Syrian and Russian governments in response to the Turkish plans,” Hiddo told Sputnik.
Ergün Turan, chairman of the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI), has said that preparations to build wall on Iranian border have been completed and Turkey is ready to start construction. Turkey’s TOKI housing agency plans to aid construction of the wall. An official with the Iranian Foreign Ministry told the Tehran Times on Tuesday that Turkey had “informally informed” Tehran of a plan to construct a wall along the border with Iran. Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported on Tuesday that Ankara is considering plans to build a wall along the Turkish-Iranian border as part of measures against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Reportedly, the wall will be constructed along 70-km of the border near Agra and [the eastern province of] Igdir, and the rest will be protected with watch towers and iron fences, the report further said. Iranian-Turkish border stretches from north to south for more than 300 miles. Turkey previously constructed a wall along the Syrian border to shield PKK and ISIS terrorists carrying out suicide attacks. Turkish officials claim some 800 to 1,000 PKK guerrillas are in camps inside Iran.
European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said on April 28 that accession talks with Turkey have not been halted and she still wants it to join, if Ankara can meet necessary conditions. Her remarks, following a EU foreign ministers meeting in Valletta, came after recent calls from some countries that negotiations over Turkey’s potential membership of the bloc should be stopped. Germany urged its EU peers not to end accession talks, saying the country is key to European interests, not least as a NATO ally. The criteria are very clear, well known and if Turkey is interested in joining, as the foreign minister told us today, “it knows very well what that implies, especially in the field of human rights, rule of law, democracy and freedoms”, she said.
Economic issues will be a top priority after Turkey’s referendum on April 16, Finance Minister Naci Ağbal has said, adding that new measures to give a further boost to the Turkish economy would be discussed. Speaking to Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ Desk in Ankara on April 13, Ağbal said the government’s previously launched measures had already given yields. “By April 17, the economy will be the top agenda for Turkey’s political scene. We will discuss fresh measures to maintain economic growth in 2017 and 2018”, said Ağba.
A meeting last week between EU leaders and Pope Francis in the Vatican is evidence that Europe’s most important union is a “Crusader Alliance” and was consequently avoiding admitting Turkey as a full member, Turkey’s president has said, declaring that the upcoming referendum on charter changes will also stand as a vote on Ankara’s ties with Brussels. All the leaders of the EU countries went to the Vatican and listened to the pope submissively. Do you now understand why they have not been taking Turkey into the EU for 54 years? The situation is quite loud and clear, it is a Crusader Alliance. April 16 will also be the day to evaluate this”, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a rally in Ankara on April 2.
New energy is needed in ties with the U.S., the Turkish government has said during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official visit to the capital Ankara, voicing hope for “concrete steps” particularly in the fight against jihadists in Syria and the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. “It’s vital for us to give a new energy to the Turkey-U.S. relationship. Turkey and the U.S. have an important role to play regarding the challenges they face. Our area of responsibility is not limited to our respective regions, it is about all problems and opportunities across the world. That’s why the Turkey-U.S. friendship should be stronger than ever”, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a joint press conference with Tillerson in Ankara on March 30.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will pay a visit to Turkey on March 30 to discuss the case of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup, and the U.S.-led offensive to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The secretary of state also plans to discuss an “interim zone of stability” in Syria based on cease-fires. Tillerson will discuss “interim de-escalation zones based on cease-fires or other means” with Turkey, a State Department official said March 27. The deal there is that Turkey has an agreement, a commitment to deliver elements of the opposition, and critically, Russia has a commitment to deliver the regime to make sure that these cease-fires hold”, the official said
PKK Executive Committee member, Murat Karayilan, said in footage released by Firat News Agency that PKK fighters would prove to everybody that they will not be defeated. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in December that Ankara intended to launch an offensive against the PKK in the Qandil Mountains. The PKK’s three-decade armed struggle against the Turkish government flared up again in 2015 after the collapse of a two-year cease-fire and settlement process, plunging Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast back into open conflict between Turkish security forces and the PKK. The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has continued for over 25 years and claimed more than 40,000 lives.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 17 the government is “experiencing a problematic process”, and an uncomfortable environment trying to fulfill a visa deal with the EU. “If the EU does not implement visa liberalization, we have three interconnected agreements. The re-admission and immigration agreement. At that time, the other two agreements are, of course, not applied naturally”,Cavuşoglu said at a meeting of business leaders in Anlaya district. Ankara is supposed to readmit all irregular asylum seekers who reach Greek islands from Turkey, according to the read mission agreement signed last March with the EU.
Family Minister FatmaBetülSayan Kaya returned to Turkey on March 12 after Dutch police escorted her back to Germany, after she had been barred from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam amid an escalating row between the two countries. Thousands of protesters waving Turkish flags gathered outside the Rotterdam consulate, demanding to welcome the minister while protests also erupted in Istanbul and Ankara in front of the Dutch diplomatic missions which had been sealed off after the Dutch move. Dutch police later used water cannon and horses to break up the protests following the minister’s leave.