Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has shared with Sputnik his attitude towards a decision by Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani to skip a conference on countering terrorism that is taking place in Istanbul and elaborated on whether Turkey fears global isolation over its military ops in northern Syria.
Sputnik: Speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, cancelled his visit to Istanbul after Operation Peace Spring in Syria's north started. What's your take on it?
Cavusoglu: I don't want to comment on the decision by the speaker about one of the participant countries' parliaments. He, possibly, has his reasons. But we are glad to see the Speaker of the Russian Duma Vyacheslav Volodin attending this conference. The conference on countering terrorism is crucial. Parliaments must play an important role not in just law making, but also in parliamentary diplomacy.
Sputnik: Russia, Iran, European and Arab states have expressed their protest against the Turkish military operation in Syria. Isn’t Turkey afraid of ending up in isolation?
Cavusoglu: Why should Turkey be afraid of ending up isolated? We are fighting terrorism, and terrorism is our common enemy. I don't think that Russia has something against this operation. Russia is concerned about certain sensitive moments, such as territorial integrity and unity of [Syria]. We are concerned about it too.
If you take a look at all the joint Russia-Turkey-Iran statements, you'll see that we have always underscored [the necessity of preserving the country's territorial integrity].
And this terrorist organisation [, YPG – Kurdish People's Protection Units,] pursues a separatist agenda and strives to separate the country. We are trying to prevent that as well. We are combating terrorism together [with other states], with Russia. That's why Russia supported us in the UN. If some countries have double standards with regard to our fight against terrorism – that's their problem. We are not afraid of isolation, if truth is on our side, as we are aiming to combat terrorism.
Sputnik: How will Turkey respond to possible US sanctions over the military operation in Syria?
Cavusoglu: We have already given our answer to that. Our answer has been published on the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s website.
Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish forces east of the Euphrates kicked off on 9 October despite protests from the EU, Arab states and the US, which cooperated with Kurds during the fight against Daesh* in Syria and Iraq. Since then, Ankara has announced the killing of over 400 "terrorists" and seizing control over several communities, previously controlled by the Kurds.
Washington and Brussels warned Ankara that they might slap it with heavy economic sanctions unless it ceases military operations. US President Donald Trump also said that a response "tougher than sanctions" is also on the table. At the same time, Washington has started pulling out its troops from the zone of Turkish operation, with Trump noting that the US has already delivered a lot of aid, including weaponry for the Kurds.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia