11/14/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/14/2019 09:53
Speaking at a joint press conference with President Trump of the U.S., President Erdoğan said: 'We have agreed on deepening our cooperation and furthering the Turkish-American relations on a strong and healthy basis. In line with our deep-rooted alliance, we are determined to turn a new page in our relations.'
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Donald Trump of the U.S. held a joint press conference following their tête-à-tête and the meeting between the delegations.
'WE ARE DETERMINED TO TURN A NEW PAGE IN OUR RELATIONS'
'We held comprehensive and sincere talks with Mr. President concerning the issues on our agenda,' President Erdoğan stated, and noted: 'We have agreed on deepening our cooperation and furthering the Turkish-American relations on a strong and healthy basis. In line with our deep-rooted alliance, we are determined to turn a new page in our relations. We have affirmed with Mr. President our mutual will on combatting terrorist groups that threaten our national security. We have underscored the importance of continuing our joint fight against DAESH.'
Highlighting that Turkey has taken a new and significant step in the fight against terror with Operation Peace Spring that it launched on October 9, President Erdoğan added: 'With this operation, our country has dealt a heavy blow to PKK/YPG's separatist agenda in Syria. We believe that with our agreement on October 17, we have seized a great opportunity for the deepening of our cooperation in Syria. PKK/YPG carries out provocative attacks that target our soldiers and civilians in order to undermine this agreement. Earlier this month, 13 civilians lost their lives as a result of the detonation of a bomb they planted at a market place in Tal Abyad.'
'WE CONTINUE TO ABIDE BY OUR AGREEMENT WITH THE U.S.'
Underscoring that a total of 19 attacks and acts of harassment have been carried out by the terrorist organization over the past 24 hours, President Erdoğan said: 'However, we continue to abide by our agreement with the U.S. in order to find a lasting solution to the Syrian crisis. We see that some circles, which sympathize with terrorist organizations, are disturbed by this and seek to muddy public perception with misinformation and to deteriorate our relations. What is more, they strive to raise new problems, which will undermine our bilateral relations, by even distorting historical issues.
I have shared with Mr. President that the resolutions adopted at the House of Representatives on October 29 have exactly served this purpose, hurt the Turkish people, and aimed to cast a shadow on our relations. The decision-makers about an incident that took place under war conditions 104 years ago ought to be historians, not politicians. We have full confidence and nothing to worry about on this issue. Let me make it clear that Turkey is in favor of dialogue and a free discussion environment regarding this issue. Our offer to the Armenian side concerning the establishment of a joint history commission still stands. We are of the belief that the Senate will steer the U.S. politics out of this vicious circle into which it has fallen following the resolution adopted at the House of Representatives.'
'WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO BRING PEACE AND STABILITY TO SYRIA'
President Erdoğan went on to say that Turkey and the U.S. can work together to completely finish DAESH off and bring peace and stability to Syria, adding that the U.S.' most reliable partner with which it can achieve this goal is Turkey. The President noted: 'Our country is the only NATO ally that has fought hand-to-hand against DAESH and lost lives to this end. We have thus far apprehended 7 680 foreign terrorist fighters and expatriated them. We have banned nearly 77 thousand people from entering our country on suspicion of having DAESH links.'
'There are 1 216 DAESH members who are of 40 different nationalities in our prisons,' President Erdoğan continued, and said: 'We have caught 287 people, including women and children, who have fled PKK/YPG's camps and crossed into the areas under Turkey's control. We will determinedly continue our fight against this terrorist organization which has targeted myself with the headlines in their publications and killed our 304 citizens in Turkey alone. It is of utmost importance that foreign terrorist fighters be taken back by their countries of origin. Mr. President and I share a common understanding with regard to convincing the countries of origin, particularly European ones, to take them back.'
Further stressing that when the conflict broke out in Syria nearly 9 years ago, the incidents affected Turkey the most, President Erdoğan said Turkey currently houses over 4 million refugees, 3 million 650 thousand of whom are Syrians, Arabs, Yezidis, Keldanis and 350 thousand of whom are Kurds, and they also regularly deliver aid to 3 million people living on Syrian territory. 'Tens of thousands of innocents have lost their lives since the call I made during the 2015 G20 Antalya Summit for the establishment of a safe zone was not put into effect in time,' President Erdoğan underscored, and added: 'This problem cannot go on like this forever.'
The President went on to say that 365 thousand Syrians have returned to the areas that Turkey has cleared of terrorists during operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, noting that the return to the areas Turkey has secured through Operation Peace Spring has also begun. 'The number of people returning home will further increase in the period ahead when the project, which we prepared, is put into effect,' said the President.
'WE HAVE REITERATED OUR DEMAND FOR FETO'S PRESENCE IN THE US TO BE ENDED'
Pointing out that the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) staged a coup attempt in Turkey, murdered our 251 people and wounded 2 193, President Erdoğan stated: 'We have reiterated during the talks our demand and expectation for FETO's presence in the US to be ended.'
The President continued as follows: 'We have discussed how we can achieve as soon as possible the $100 billion trade goal we set with Mr. Trump. Our Ministers of Trade continue to work within the framework of our $100 billion trade goal. It is our wish and desire that steps which may make it difficult to achieve this goal be avoided. Naturally, our deep-rooted relations in defense industry have been on our agenda. We can only overcome the challenges we are faced with in this area, particularly the S-400 systems and the F-35 program, through dialogue. My dear friend personally voiced in Osaka the injustices Turkey suffered with regard to the Patriots. I have once again told Mr. President that we can purchase Patriots if an offer is made with the conditions we want. I have also told Mr. President that we as Turkey are ready to continue our engagement with the U.S. Congress through constructive dialogue.'
CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA
Answering reporters' questions following his remarks, President Erdoğan, in response to a question regarding the Christians in Syria, said Turkey exerts special efforts and carries out specific works about Keldanis, Yezidis and Christians, and that Turkey has enabled them to pray in their own places of worships by renovating the destroyed ones. Stating that those who have already come to Turkey do not experience any difficulties, the President added that food, clothing and medication needs of those who are still on the Syrian side are met by Turkey, as well.
'FERHAT ABDI ŞAHIN IS A TERRORIST'
Also voicing his frustration over the issue of terrorist Ferhat Abdi Şahin, President Erdoğan said that Ferhat Abdi Şahin is a terrorist who has caused the death of hundreds of Turkish citizens, and added: 'To be honest, it is frustrating for us that the U.S., our strategic partner, has welcomed such a person in such a way. Likewise, Russia has also welcomed this person in such a way.' President Erdoğan continued: 'If we are to carry out a proper fight against terror, we must show more sensitivity on these issues.' The President further stressed that he also handed over the document issued by the CIA that Ferhat Abdi Şahin is a terrorist to U.S. President Trump during the talks.
Answering a question about why Turkey does not conduct negotiations with Kurds in Syria like in Iraq, President Erdoğan said Turkey does not have any problem with Kurds, but that it combats terrorist organizations, namely the YPG/PYD, which he underlined is the offshoot of the PKK, adding: 'Just as we have good relations with our Kurdish brothers and sisters in Northern Iraq, we do not have any problem with our Kurdish brothers and sisters in the north of Syria.'