Turkey’s ties with Russia too strong to be broken by Macron: FM

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Turkey’s ties with Russia are too strong to be broken by France’s president, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday, after Emmanuel Macron said Ankara’s support of missile strikes on Syria showed it had “separated” from Russia.

“The French president’s [Emmanuel Macron] statements were refuted by various countries. We expect statements that befit a president. Before the tripartite [Syria] summit was held in Ankara, Macron had said that he wanted to join. Our president [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] called [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. Russia accepted and Iran said to hold a trilateral summit, and then to hold a 3+1 meeting later. When he [Macron] was not included in the tripartite summit, he did not come. We should not have been put in a position to explain all of this, but the truth must be told,” Çavuşoğlu said.

At a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu added that Turkey’s relations with Russia were not an alternative to its ties with NATO, France and the United States.

Çavuşoğlu’s comments came after Macron confessed in an interview that joint strikes conducted by France, Britain and the United States targeted Ankara’s relations with Moscow.

“With those strikes we have separated the Russians and the Turks on this. The Turks condemned the chemical weapons,” Macron said in an interview broadcasted by BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news.

Turkey-Russia ties

“We are against chemical weapons, and we have requested that the regime [of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] be punished every time. We sought for evidence to be collected. Turkey has a cooperation with Iran and Russia that started with Astana and Sochi. The aim of this cooperation is to ensure a ceasefire and contribute to the political period,” said Çavuşoğlu.

“During this period, we have thought differently than these two countries regarding the regime. We can’t end our cooperation in other fields because we differed. We are not going to give up our principled attitude about the regime because we have cooperation. We may have differing stances, but our relations with Russia are too strong to be severed by the French president. We have to keep our relations with each country strong,” he added.

NATO welcomes Turkey’s “transparency” in Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin

“[Foreign] Minister Çavuşoğlu briefed me on Operation Olive Branch, and I am grateful for Turkey’s continued transparency on this,” said NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg

“We want more support from NATO in our struggle against terror. Turkey has given great support to NATO until today, and will continue to do so, but we expect NATO’s support of Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and regional matters were discussed during their meeting.

“This is my seventh visit to Ankara. Turkey is the NATO member I visit the most. This is a sign of the importance placed on Turkey as an ally. Turkey supports NATO actively in Afghanistan. Turkey works very hard for our alliance, and has a great input to our fight against Daesh. No other NATO ally has suffered as many terrorist attacks as Turkey, and you are the ally most exposed to the instability in this region,” said NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region. On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated Afrin town center, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since 2012.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.



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