Turkish defense chief says 'F-16 procurement in positive progress, but Washington's support for terrorist PKK/YPG contradicts allied solidarity'

‘Contrary to solidarity of alliance, ongoing cooperation of US with the terror group in Syria continues to threaten our national security,' says Yasar Guler

13:59 - 15/06/2024 Saturday
File photo
File photo

Türkiye's National defense minister said the process of F-16 fighter jets procurement from the US is in positive progress, but Washington's ongoing support for the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in Syria continues to contradict the allied solidarity.

“The F-16 procurement process is progressing according to the planned schedule. We hope for the smooth completion of this important project up to the delivery of the final aircraft and for this positive momentum to reflect on other areas of our relationship.

“As you know, one of the two main threats in the new NATO strategic concept is combating terrorism. Unfortunately, contrary to the solidarity of alliance, the ongoing cooperation of the US with the terrorist organization in Syria continues to threaten our national security,” Yasar Guler told reporters, following his attendance at the NATO Defense Ministers Meeting held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on June 13-14.

The so-called election postponed by the terrorist organization has no legal basis, Guler said, adding that the elections are contrary to the UN Resolution 2254, which includes the protection of Syria's territorial integrity.

Türkiye aims to neutralize terrorists in the region, ensure border security, and contribute to the peace and security of the Syrian people, Guler noted, and said Ankara expects the US to fulfill its commitments made in 2019 and to cease all support to the PKK/YPG terror group.

At every platform and level, Türkiye expresses its readiness to provide the necessary support to the US in fighting the Daesh/ISIS terror group, Guler stressed, saying that the country will continue to fulfill all its responsibilities, and contribute to peace and cooperation both in the region and across the world.

“At this stage, we want to look ahead and focus on a positive agenda in our bilateral relations with the US,” he added.

Reiterating that Ankara will never allow the establishment of a “terror corridor” on the southern border of NATO -- which is in northern Iraq and Syria -- Guler said: “We explained that the PKK/YPG terrorist organization is misleading the international public under the guise of fighting Daesh/ISIS.”

- NATO-Ukraine Contact Group Meeting

Guler also attended the NATO-Ukraine Contact Group meeting.

"In the meetings, we expressed our country's views on various issues and met with our counterparts for an exchange of views. Overall, I find it to have been very beneficial and productive,” Guler said.

"As a strong and reliable member with NATO's second-largest army, we reminded that we continue our contributions to NATO with a focus on solidarity and deterrence,” Guler said.

He further said Ankara closely follows the work carried out within the alliance and will continue to fulfill its responsibilities within NATO, making significant and important contributions to NATO and the security of the Euro-Atlantic region.

Guler also noted Türkiye's strong support for Ukraine, especially for its territorial integrity, and added: "We highlighted the importance we attach to the 'principle of regional ownership' as an ally with the longest coastline in the Black Sea and that we meticulously implement the Montreux Convention.”

“We also stated that the Black Sea Mine Countermeasures Task Group Initiative, which we established with Bulgaria and Romania, will be activated next month,” he added.

"During the meetings at NATO Headquarters and in discussions with our counterparts, we had the opportunity to once again remind everyone of our significant contributions to NATO's command and force structure, operations, and missions on land, sea, air, and space.

“In this context, we emphasized that the export license restrictions imposed on our country are unacceptable. In addition, we highlighted that non-EU allies should be fully included in the EU's defense initiatives,” he added.

- Europe's pursuit of ‘its own security umbrella'

Guler said: "As we approach the Washington summit, we continue our close cooperation with all allies to meet the alliance's needs in the context of the changing security environment.”

NATO is an alliance for the collective security guarantee, the defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic region, and the security of its member states, and it has proven its success since its foundation, Guler noted.

The efforts of the EU member allies in seeking alternatives outside NATO “would undermine the unity and success” of the alliance, he added.

“NATO is the sole platform for the defense and security of all allies. The efforts of the EU would only be beneficial if they complement NATO, and only in that case would we consider participating,” he also said.

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