By Ayhan Simsek
MUNICH (AA) - Turkey is a key partner in the fight against terrorism, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Saturday.
During his address at the Munich Security Conference, the conservative politician turned down opposition calls to restrict security cooperation with Turkey.
"Turkey remains an important NATO partner,” de Maiziere said, defending the government’s policy of close cooperation between Berlin and Ankara.
"We must also understand that Turkey has suffered from terrorism much more than Germany, and they have much more victims. Of course, Turkey is a key partner for us in the fight against terrorism,” he stressed.
Germany’s far-left opposition party Die Linke has criticized Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in northwestern Syria, Operation Olive Branch, and called for restricting security cooperation with Ankara and suspending arms sales to Turkey.
Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told conference participants that Turkey’s measures against foreign fighters and its fight against the terrorist groups PYD/PKK and Daesh in northern Syria carry significant importance for Europe’s security.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.