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Turkiye expects Austria to support right to defend itself

Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop on November 18, 2022 [Turkish Grand National Assembly/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop on November 18, 2022 [Turkish Grand National Assembly/Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye expects Austria to support its right to self-defence against terrorism and attacks by Kurdish militant groups, a senior Turkish politician has stated.

In a visit to Austria at the invitation of Austrian Parliament Speaker, Wolfgang Sobotka, Turkiye's Parliament Speaker, Mustafa Sentop, met with members of the Austria-Turkiye Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, which is chaired by a politician of Turkish descent from Austria's Social Democratic Party, Nurten Yılmaz.

During that meeting, Sentop stated that "Turkiye will not allow members of the terrorist group to receive training and education there [Syria]", referring to the designated terrorist organisation the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its affiliate Kurdish militias in Syria – the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"We expect the support of our friends in this rightful issue", Sentop added, referring to remarks by the Austrian parliamentarians opposing Turkiye's looming cross-border operation in northern Syria."We expect a principled stance from all our friends. They are thousands of kilometres away from Syria, but the United States has military elements. What is the US looking for in Syria? It is right next to Turkiye's border."

READ: US affirms right of Turkiye to defend itself, urges restraint in northern Syria

He emphasised that "Turkiye does not have to wait for terrorist groups to come and take action" within the country, seemingly referring to the terror attack in Istanbul which killed six people and injured 81 earlier this month.

According to Ankara and its security services, that explosion was planned and carried out by the PKK and its Syrian Kurdish affiliates, with evidence reportedly based on findings that the bomber was directly in contact with and supplied materials by individuals belonging to the YPG.

Sentop took aim at the criticism against Turkish strikes in Kurdish militia targets over its border, highlighting that he has never heard any European countries objecting to the US military presence in Syria and emphasising that Turkiye has the right to protect itself.

"I have read a lot of studies that many countries harmed civilians in operations. It is also possible to follow them in the media. There were many incidents that the US and some European countries said 'sorry'. It happened in Afghanistan, it happened in Iraq. We did not see the necessary reaction from European politicians," the Parliament Speaker said.

"The Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] is the most sensitive army in the world when it comes to civilians," he claimed. "Even by mistake, civilians were not harmed."

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