Turkish FM: UN official's remarks not meant for Turkey
Remarks by a UN spokesman about arms shipments to warring Syrian forces were not directed at Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday.
In a live interview with the private A Haber TV channel, Cavusoglu said that several newspaper stories claiming that the UN had criticized Turkey about arms deliveries to Syria were wrongheaded.
Cavusoglu said: "It is not true that the remarks [by UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric] was directed at Turkey as stories published in one or two newspapers said. The spokesman just recalled the UN's resolutions and its position on this issue."
A number of reports in the Turkish media quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying: "The fundamental principle of the secretary-general is definite. The UN supports peace-oriented acts for resolution of the conflict in Syria. The UN is against arms shipments to any of the warring sides in Syria."
Cavusoglu said: "When the international organizations want to make such statements, they either hold a press conference, or they answer a question in a press event, or they make a written statement."
Referring to Dujarric remarks, Cavusoglu said: "He did not say these in a press conference. This was a remark in response to a question asked as he walked in the aisle."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday lodged a criminal complaint against Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper that carried images allegedly showing arms being transported to Syria by the Turkish intelligence service.
In the complaint, passed on to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office by Erdogan's lawyer Muammer Cemiloglu, Dundar is accused of committing a crime by publishing "false footage and information in an attempt to bring down the Republic of Turkey and prevent the state from carrying out its duties."
Cumhuriyet's story was about the stopping of trucks by Turkish gendarmerie forces in southern Adana and Hatay provinces in January 2014.
Photographs and video appeared to show crates allegedly filled with weapons and ammunition stacked under boxes containing medical supplies. In one photograph, the arms' serial numbers are visible.
"These are the attempts that want to portray Turkey as a country that supports terrorism. But Turkey is a country that always fights against terrorism and also now Turkey is the most resolute country that struggles with terrorist organizations in the region, particularly Daesh," said Cavusoglu.
Turkey inked an agreement with the U.S. in February to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces as part of the U.S.-led coalition's effort to battle Daesh.
Cavusoglu said: "It is clear that Daesh is no longer on the defensive, it is again on the attack both in Syria and in Iraq. The regime [of Bashar al-Assad] and Daesh stand shoulder to shoulder."
On Tuesday, Cavusoglu said the Syrian regime has clearly given air support to Daesh. "We have always said that the [Syrian] regime and Daesh are in cooperation," he added.
The minister said the train-and-equip program had already started in Turkey and Jordan. He announced that it will start in Saudi Arabia and Qatar soon.
Cavusoglu also said that the U.K. has asked to support the program. "In principle, we are open to the British support, but we [with the U.K.] have not decided upon the area, in which it would give support."
The minister reiterated that the program for Syrian opposition forces is not enough on its own. "All kinds of alternatives are possible, including a military operation," he added.
- Claims on Morsi's citizenship
Meanwhile, touching upon the claims that Turkey would give citizenship to Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi, Cavusoglu said: "This is out of question. There was no initiative in this regard."
An Egyptian court referred 122 out of 166 defendants -- including Morsi -- to the grand mufti to consider possible death sentences over charges of espionage and a jailbreak during Egypt's 2011 uprising.
Cavusoglu said it is not possible for Turkey to recognize a "coup regime".
Turkey has been among the few countries to openly call the 2013 seizure of power by the Egyptian army -- headed at the time by current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi - as a "military coup".