After seeing Turkish president at quartet meeting on Syria in London, Emmanuel Macron speaks of ‘respect for everyone’
The fight against Daesh/ISIS is a priority, said the French president Tuesday after a quartet meeting on Syria with the Turkish, German, and British leaders.
“Not all uncertainties on Syria are lifted but there is a will to prioritize the fight against ISIS. This is important to me,” said Emmanuel Macron.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron — all in London for a NATO summit — met with host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street, the prime ministerial residence.
Macron underlined that work should continue to end the crisis in Syria and that cooperation on refugees should continue.
Asked about Erdogan, who he recently clashed with over the French leader’s remarks calling NATO “brain dead,” Macron said: “I had the opportunity to meet him personally. I respect everyone. You didn’t hear me disrespecting someone. Everyone takes responsibility. I think that Turkey is a big country. I have deep respect for the Turkish people.”
On the dispute with Turkey on the terrorist group YPG/PKK, Macron said that PKK is designated a terrorist organization by France.
“We can’t accept the YPG as terrorist. [Erdogan] disagrees. This disagreement did not go away today,” he added.
European countries and the U.S. generally designate the PKK as a terrorist group, but not the YPG/PKK, the terror group’s Syrian branch.
“We are concerned about the security of Turkish territory. However, we do not want to forget who fought Daesh/ISIS,” said Macron.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Under two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some 2 million refugees.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
*Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara