Turkey supports an anticipated UN plan to form a commission on Syria to rewrite the war-torn country’s constitution, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday.
“We have opened a final window of opportunity for a political solution in Syria,” Cavusoglu told Turkey’s parliament in a speech laying out Ankara’s foreign policy priorities.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others have been displaced, according to UN officials.
Reiterating Turkey’s resolve to fight terrorist organizations, including the PKK and YPG, Cavusoglu underlined that Ankara had never taken Kurds as an enemy.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
– Further Cyprus talks to depend on parameters
Stating that the Greek Cypriot side did not cooperate with Turkey’s efforts to reach an agreement on the eastern Mediterranean island, Cavusoglu stressed that Ankara would henceforth enter negotiations only after the “parameters and framework” of talks were determined.
He emphasized that Turkey’s continued presence in Cyprus as a guarantor was a prerequisite for a potential deal.
Cyprus has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and Britain collapsing last year.
The UN has sought a peace deal to unite Cyprus under a federal umbrella that could also define the future of Europe’s relations with Turkey, a key player in the conflict.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.
Noting that Turkey’s position remains clear on hydrocarbon drilling around Cyprus, Cavusoglu said the Turkish Armed Forces would continue to take all necessary measures in the eastern Mediterranean.
In early 2018, the Greek Cypriot administration unilaterally launched exploratory drilling activities for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean despite strong opposition from Turkish Cypriots, who argue that the island’s natural resources should be exploited jointly to ensure equal rights for both parties.