The Turkish president on Monday said his country has run out of patience after the latest deadly attack on its police force in northern Syria and harassment targeting his country’s territories.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments came at a news conference following a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara.
Two Turkish special operation police officers were killed and two others wounded in the Operation Euphrates Shield zone of northern Syria when the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group, struck an armed vehicle with guided missile.
Erdogan said Ankara is determined to eliminate threats emanating from northern Syria, either itself or with the support of active local forces.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
According to the Turkish president, 153 terror affiliates laid down their weapons and surrendered to security forces in 2021 alone, and more than a thousand young individuals were brought back in the past five years.
Turkey has been fighting terror groups such as the PKK, Daesh/ISIS and FETO, the president said.
The Turkish leader also focused on the issue of climate change, saying his country is resolute in resolving the climate crisis, and Ankara would put the green development revolution at the core of its efforts.
A climate change presidency would be established in Turkey to tackle the issue in a more elaborate manner, Erdogan said, adding that the Environment and Urbanization Ministry would be renamed as Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Ministry.
The president said his government expects all political parties, the private sector, and NGOs to support green development, which is a "historic project."
He said climate change concerns every country in the world and the Turkish parliament recently ratified the Paris climate agreement. The international community should also take a fair responsibility to tackle climate change, depending on their individual damage to nature, he added.
Turkey stands as one of the world’s top refugee-hosting countries with its refugee population of four million, including more than 3.6 million Syrians who fled the country following the eruption of a bloody civil war in 2011.
The Turkish president said it is not possible for Turkey to shoulder the entire burden of the migration crisis all by itself, and expects refugees’ target countries to take more responsibility.
In the past five years, about 2.35 million irregular migrants attempted to enter Turkish territories, the president said. He added that more than 1.3 million were held within Turkey, some of them voluntarily left whereas about 286,000 were deported.
“The goal of almost all of these migrants was not to ‘stay in Turkey’ but cross into Europe, or even other locations, we should underline that,” Erdogan said.
“With its comprehensive and efficient border security and migration policy, Turkey has thwarted a migration influx Europe would not be able to overcome,” he said.
While Turkey can sort its migration issue through security and voluntarily departures and integration via social and economic programs, the target countries should also focus on their share of the burden, the president asserted.