Turkey on Friday renewed its call for establishing safe zones within Syria.
“Turkey still thinks that areas must be created in some regions at least to make those people to feel safe,” Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu told a joint press conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
The Turkish foreign minister also said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “is already buried in history as a leader who declared war on its own people.”
“Assad cannot have a role anymore in Syria’s future,” said Sinirlioglu, adding that as long as he stayed in power, Syrians will continue to suffer from chaos and confusion in the country.
‘Turkey’s role about Syrian refugees is invaluable’
The German foreign minister applauded Turkey’s policy on Syrian refugees.
“We know how hard it is to host more than 2 million refugees,” said Steinmeier, adding that Europe should make a call for helping Syria’s and Iraq’s neighbors shouldering the burden.
Steinmeier said Turkey is an important power in the region and a country whose input is vital to find an end to the conflict in Syria.
“I am sure that Turkey will be successful in its efforts for solving this problem,” he said.
In a separate press appearance Friday in Ankara with Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, Sinirlioglu said the EU wanted to cooperate with Turkey for the solution of the refugee crisis.
“We welcome this yet the first thing to do is to end the crisis in Syria. The elimination of this issue [the refugee crisis] is not possible unless the crisis and the civil war in Syria ends. There are people there that live under the oppression of a cruel regime and flee the country only to survive.”
“We can keep these people in their country when we create a place for them to live under protection, a safe zone to be secure from the barrel bombs. As the international community and the EU we should work all together to make this happen.”
Sinirlioglu also said Turkey hosts the highest number of refugees in the world. According to the UN, there are 1.9 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey alone as of Aug. 25.
The UN estimates that more than 250,000 victims have died since the civil war began and 10 million have been displaced – 6 million internally.
Asselborn said: “It is necessary to create safe zones and we see that humanitarian aids are insufficient. We need to work for ending the conflict. We need to evaluate the reasons that lead these people to leave their country.”
Asselborn also said that the EU cannot close its doors on this “tragedy”.
Europe is facing its biggest refugee crisis in decades, with thousands of asylum seekers from Middle East and African countries trying to reach western Europe.
During the press conference with Asselborn, the Turkish foreign minister also touched on recent PKK attacks and the security operations against the terrorist group. “What is happening in Turkey right now is that our security forces are carrying out operations to establish public order against the attacks by the PKK terror organization. Considering this [PKK terrorism] as a ‘problem related to Kurds’ is out of question for us.”
“The issue here is that attacks are launched by a terrorist organisation. Turkey is resolved to give the necessary response to these attacks. Nobody can threaten the public order in Turkey and none of our friends can criticize for what Turkey is doing to establish the public order.”
Following a suicide bomb attack in July – blamed on Daesh – in the south eastern province of Sanliurfa that killed over 30 people, the terrorist PKK organization has renewed armed attacks especially targeting Turkish military and police forces.
Since July, more than 100 members of the security forces have been martyred and hundreds of PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq, including airstrikes.