UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS FROM STATEMENT
By Ferdi Turkten
ANKARA (AA) - Türkiye will not allow the existence and activities of any terrorist group in its region, the country’s National Security Council said on Thursday.
In a statement released after over three-hour meeting of the National Security Council under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the capital Ankara, the council said: "The existence and activity of any terrorist group will not be allowed in our region, and every necessary step will be taken decisively for this."
To ensure the defense and security of the Turkish nation and its borders, the only target in the operations, which are being carried out along its southern borders in line with the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, are terrorist organizations, it said.
The counter-terrorism operations and their success both at home and abroad were briefed upon, and additional measures were discussed during the meeting of the council, the statement said.
Recently, Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword in northern Iraq and Syria, a cross-border aerial campaign against the PKK/YPG terrorist group, which has illegal hideouts across the Iraqi and Syrian borders where they plan and sometimes execute attacks on Turkish soil.
The council also emphasizes that Ankara expects Greece, "which is indifferent to Türkiye's conciliatory and sincere approach and solution-oriented dialogue proposals," to end its activities that violate international law and agreements, especially the arming of the Aegean islands that have non-military status.
Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, has complained of repeated provocative actions and rhetoric by Greece in the region in recent months, including arming islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under treaty obligations, saying such moves frustrate its good faith efforts towards peace.
Recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo were also evaluated in the meeting, it said, adding that in order to preserve the stability, peace and tranquility in the region, "separatist discourses and unilateral initiatives" should be avoided.
Welcoming the acceptance of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as an observer member in the Organization of Turkic States, the council said it expects similar steps from other international organizations and countries.
The council also reiterated Türkiye's determination to give support and to defend the "just cause of the Turkish Cypriots."
- Decades-long dispute
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation of the island led to Türkiye's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the terrorist group’s Syrian offshoot.