By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet
ANKARA (AA) - The EU said on Monday that Turkey's security concerns in northeast Syria should be addressed though political and diplomatic means, not through military action.
The EU Council said in a statement that Turkey should cease its anti-terrorist Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria and withdraw its forces.
"Turkey is a key partner of the European Union and a critically important actor in the Syrian crisis and the region. Turkey’s security concerns in North-East Syria should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, not with military action, and in accordance with international humanitarian law," the statement stressed.
The statement said the EU condemns Turkey’s operation, claiming that it undermines regional security and stability.
Not addressing Ankara’s arguments that the YPG/PKK terror threat in northern Syria has to be eliminated to ensure its territorial integrity, the statement added that the EU remains committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and these can be assured "only" through a genuine political transition.
Separately, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday slammed criticism of Turkey’s anti-terror operation, questioning how NATO members -- most of them also members of the EU -- could hold the Syrian terrorist group YPG/PKK above Turkey, a NATO for nearly 70 years.
Turkey last Wednesday launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.