‘Turkey to initiate own plans if safe zone deal fails’


Turkey will initiate its own plans after two weeks if no results come from Turkey-U.S. safe zone deal, the Turkish president said on Wednesday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks came at a ceremony opening the 2019-2020 academic year for higher education at the Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center in the capital.

Referring to Monday’s Syria-themed trilateral summit in Ankara among the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran, Erdogan said Turkey’s safety concerns about the PKK terror groups’ activities in the east of Euphrates were widely shared.

“This situation particularly strengthened the immediate conclusion of our safe zone deal with the U.S.,” he added.

“As we said during the summit and after, Turkey will initiate its own plans in two weeks if no results come from Turkey-U.S. safe zone deal,” said Erdogan.

Referring to an agreement between Turkey and the U.S. on the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria to enable displaced Syrians to return, Erdogan said: “Two or three million Syrian refugees in Turkey and Europe can be resettled in the safe zone east of Euphrates in northern Syria.”

Underlining Turkey’s expectation for “more concrete support” from European countries on Syria’s Idlib and the safe zone east of Euphrates, he said: “Turkey does not need words anymore.”

“Turkey is hosting an unprecedented 3.6 million refugees. Then, the West needed to do the same,” Erdogan said and added: “Turkey can’t shoulder the responsibility of 4 million Syrians if we do not keep peace in Idlib immediately.”

On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.

The agreement also envisaged setting up necessary security measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, including clearing the zone of the terrorist YPG/PKK, a group the U.S. has sometimes been allied with, over Turkey’s objections.

Turkey has accused the U.S. of dragging its feet and having a different concept for the safe zone.
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