UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS OF NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING
By Zafer Fatih Beyaz
ANKARA (AA) – Ankara will take necessary steps in every field against the EU’s Operation Irini over the illegal search of a Turkish-flagged vessel bound for Libya, Turkey’s National Security Council said on Wednesday.
The council strongly condemned the unlawful search of the ship this past Sunday by a German frigate part of Operation Irini, which has the purported aim of enforcing a UN arms embargo against Libya.
A statement issued after a meeting of the National Security Council said the unilateral act was completely against international law and principles of alliance relations.
Vowing to take “necessary steps in every field”, the Turkish body said the purpose and legitimacy of the EU operation was dubious as it had been turned into a complete embargo on the legitimate Libyan government.
The Turkish-flagged ship was taking paint, paint materials, and humanitarian aid to Libya, and the EU operation has since admitted that the unlawful search did not lead to recovery of any illegal items.
Turkey has long maintained that the UN arms embargo on Libya is being enforced in a biased manner favoring warlord Khalifa Haftar.
- Eastern Mediterranean
The insistence of some parties on denying the existence of two communities and two states on the island of Cyprus is unacceptable, said the statement issued by the National Security Council.
The council asserted that Turkey will continue to protect the legitimate rights of Turkish Cypriots, saying that tensions were rising in the region because some parties were steering away from dialogue and cooperation.
Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean.
Ankara has also said energy resources found near Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.
- Anti-terrorism efforts
Noting that terrorist organizations in Syria try to take advantage of changes in international affairs, the National Security Council reaffirmed Turkey’s commitment to thwart any attempts of creating a terror corridor along its southern border.
During the meeting, the council was informed about operations against all terror groups, including the YPG/PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and Daesh/ISIS, which threaten the sovereignty and survival of Turkey, read the statement.
Led by the US-based Fetullah Gulen, FETO is the group that orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Similarly, the PKK has waged a more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey.
The group – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
- Upper Karabakh conflict
Turkey is pleased that Azerbaijan has taken back its territories that were under Armenian occupation for more than quarter of a century, the National Security Council said.
The council discussed all aspects of the geopolitical situation emerging after the end of the Upper Karabakh clashes, according to the statement.
The cease-fire agreement is a testament to the importance of Turkey’s contribution towards peace and stability in the South Caucasus and establishment of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, it added.
After over a month of clashes, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered agreement on Nov. 10.
By the time the fighting ended, Baku liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from Armenian occupation.
Turkey has also hailed the truce as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, which had occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions since 1991.