ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER, NATO CHIEF, BACKGROUND
By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur and Beyza Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's most natural and legitimate expectation is that its allies show solidarity within the framework of indivisibility of security, Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.
"The contributions we have made so far is for the security of our country, the region and our allies. Within the framework of indivisibility of security, Turkey expects naturally and legitimately that our allies stand in solidarity," said Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking in a joint press conference with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
"It's not enough to say 'we understand Turkey's legitimate concerns,' we want to see clear solidarity," he added.
"[The operation] is therefore highly important for the security of alliance territory," Cavusoglu said.
Turkey's most natural and legitimate expectation is that its allies show solidarity within the framework of indivisibility of security, he added.
Cavusoglu said he informed NATO chief Stoltenberg about Operation Peace Spring, and Turkey expects from its allies to show "strong solidarity".
"On the one hand, you call this operation legitimate and on the other hand oppose it. The operation is against a terrorist organization," Cavusoglu stressed.
"You may have an involvement with the terrorist organization in the field, but that's not our problem. You gave weapons to this terrorist organization, you trained it, which is also not our problem. Essentially, it's your hypocrisy. I say this for the countries which support the terrorists," he added.
Noting that Turkey is "a strong member" of NATO alliance and plays "a key part" in what NATO does from Black Sea to the Mediterranean, Jens Stoltenberg said NATO has "strong commitment" to Turkey’s security.
"Turkey is at the fore front in a very volatile region," Stoltenberg said and added: "No other NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks, no other NATO ally exposed to instability, violence, turmoil from the Middle East, and no other NATO ally hosts so many refugees as Turkey does, many of them from Syria."
NATO chief said he shared his concerns -- over Turkey's ongoing operation and "further risks of destabilizing the region, escalating tension and more human suffering" -- with Cavusoglu.
"While Turkey has legitimate concerns, I expect Turkey to act with restraint," Stoltenberg said.
Talking about the common enemy Daesh, he also urged the international community to find "coordinated and sustainable solution" to deal with Daesh terrorists held in Syria.
"Turkey is an important part of this alliance and we appreciate your contributions to our collective security, our missions and operations. You are making NATO stronger," Stoltenberg concluded.
- Operation Peace Spring
Turkey on Wednesday launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to secure its borders and Syria’s territorial integrity by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees.
Turkey has said the PKK terrorist group and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardizing the country’s territorial integrity and unitary structure.
Ankara has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is unacceptable.
Turkey has a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria and has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates River and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle two million Syrians in a 30-km (19-mile) wide proposed safe zone in Syria stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of terror groups such as the PKK, PYD and YPG risk its formation.
Turkey has freed an area of 4,000 square km (1,544 square miles) in Syria from terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations.
Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria -- Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch -- to eradicate threats from Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group.
The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), and under the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity.
During Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish forces neutralized 3,060 Daesh terrorists.
Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country.
More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.
In its more than 30-year terror of 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 some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.