The public agenda in Turkey has been busy with three main topics last week.
The first topic was the official address by the US President Joe Biden to the House of Representatives about the Turkish military actions against the YPG/PKK in Northern Syria, and the reactions from the Turkish politicians.
Second was the Iranian diplomatic delegation’s visit to Turkey.
Third was the ongoing vaccination attempts and the current fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Turkey.
Biden’s formal address to the Congress on the Turkish military operations in Syria
US President Joe Biden has sent a formal letter to the House of Representatives, about the Turkish military Presence in Northern Syria.
In his letter, Biden requested the prolongation of the state of national emergency on the Syrian crisis while stating that “The situation in and in relation to Syria, and in particular the actions by the Government of Turkey to conduct a military offensive into northeast Syria, undermines the campaign to defeat ISIS, endangers civilians, and further threatens to undermine the peace, security, and stability in the region, and continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
Reactions came from various Turkish political parties and statespersons, including the Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“The US President Joe Biden is not telling the truth while sending letters to the Congress or informing its people”, the Foreign Minister said in response.
“Instead of blaming Turkey, the U.S. should abandon its own wrong policies, and should be more honest with the American people and its Congress,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a joint news conference with his visiting Venezuelan counterpart Felix Plasencia.
Cavusoglu, who described the letter as a “copy-paste,” said the US administration had previously used the same sentences.
“The reason for this is the US’ cooperation with the YPG/PKK terrorist organization, which the US takes very seriously,” he said.
“We know very well that the purpose of being here is not to fight ISIS,” the minister said, claiming that this position is illegal under US law.
“We have fought ISIS. The only army in NATO and the world that is fighting against ISIS is our army.”
Around 4,000 jihadists have been killed as a result of this struggle, he said, adding that Turkey is supporting the international efforts by taking measures against “foreign terrorists.”
He went on to say that the Syria and Iraq policies of the US, as well as all of its policies, are discussed in Europe and NATO. All of these policies are implemented without a plan and foresight, he added.
On Wednesday, Cavusoglu had also said that the PKK, and its Syrian offshoot YPG, are targeting Turkey and the government is not going to watch the developments as a mere spectator.
“Turkey will do whatever it takes to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria,” Cavusoglu said, referring to the YPG/PKK, which repeatedly targets Turkish forces in the region.
The minister said the YPG/PKK has begun targeting Turkish territories just like it did before Ankara launched large-scale military operations in the region.
According to the minister, the average rocket-firing range of YPG/PKK toward Turkish territory is around 30 kilometers (18.6 miles).
Ankara, following military operations in Syria, reached agreements with Moscow and Washington who assured to push terror elements 30km back southwards, away from the Turkish borderline, he added.
Cavusoglu also accused the US of being “insincere” in its condemnation of terror attacks on Turkish elements, noting that the US-supplied weapons to the terror group and trained its militants in the first place.
The Chairman of Turkish Vatan Party’s International Office, Utku Reyhan made a written statement: ”Joe Biden once again stated that he considers Turkey as an enemy, by describing the Turkish operations against the PKK/YPG, as a threat to the United States. Claiming to fight against Daesh, the United States armed the terrorist group PKK/YPG, and unleashed it over Syria and Turkey. Significant arms and supplies were delivered from the US defense budget to this terrorist organization.”
Reyhan added that, “In fact, what Biden said was a public acknowledgement. He is actually right. Turkish operations of Euphrates Shield, Peace Spring and Olive Branch have foiled four-decades-old US plans to establish a “Kurdish Corridor”. The victory of the Turkish army was also a huge defeat for the United States.”
Iranian diplomatic delegation’s visit to Turkey
The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced on Twitter that the bilateral meetings were held in Ankara under the presidencies of Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.
The tweet noted:
“In these bilateral meetings, our bilateral relations were discussed; along with the idea exchange over the regional and international developments especially over Syria, Afghanistan, the Caucasus and Yemen.”
The deputy chairman of Justice and Development Party (AKP) Numan Kurtulmus also met with the delegation at his party’s headquarters in Ankara, where issues such as improving political, commercial and cultural relations between Turkey and Iran, stability in Afghanistan and cooperation of countries in the region, and peace in the Caucasus were discussed.
The delegation also included Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Farazmand, Director of the Mediterranean Department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Mahmoud Haideri and the Political Undersecretary of the Iranian Embassy Majid Feyzollahi.
Few days ago before the meeting, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov spoke by phone with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, as the Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said.
The ministers agreed that the current rhetoric between the two countries, which does not correspond with the level of friendship between Azerbaijan and Iran, is harmful and disagreements should be resolved through dialogue, the ministry said in a statement.
The statement noted that Bayramov and Amir-Abdollahian highlighted the importance of mutual respect for their countries’ territorial integrity and sovereignty.
According to the statement, the ministers also decided that transit transportation via Azerbaijan will be discussed by the two countries’ concerned institutions.
Vaccination efforts and the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Turkey
Turkey has administered over 112.94 million doses of coronavirus vaccines in total since the country launched an immunization campaign in January, according to official figures released on October 5th.
More than 54.62 million people have been given the first dose of the Covid vaccine, while around 46.61 million are fully vaccinated, the Health Ministry said.
Turkey has also given third booster shots to more than 10.79 million people.
Separately, the ministry also recorded 31,248 new cases, 236 coronavirus-related deaths, and 30,331 recoveries over the last 24 hours.
As many as 361,164 virus tests were conducted over the past day.
On last Tuesday, the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister said that the international cooperation is needed to resolve the problems arising from global issues, especially the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the 2021 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mediterranean Conference held virtually, Yavuz Selim Kiran said the destabilizing factors caused by the pandemic have paved the way for terrorism, organized crimes, and regional and global increase in human smuggling.
He said the pandemic has affected various sectors, particularly tourism, adding regional and international cooperation is necessary to fight the difficulties arising from the pandemic.
“Turkey has been contributing to the efforts to minimize the adverse effects of the challenge since the first days of the pandemic,” Kiran said.
“While we provided support for several sectors of our economy, we also supplied medical equipment to over 160 countries and 12 international institutions,” he added.
Noting that the Turkic Council will donate coronavirus vaccines to 10 African countries as part of the joint initiative by Turkey and Hungary, he said his country will put its domestic Turkovac vaccine at disposal of humanity.
“We should provide fair and equitable access to everyone from every country. Turkey will continue supporting the global efforts for vaccine equality,” he added.