CHP Deputy Chair Ünal Çeviköz said “CHP cares deeply about any issue related to Turkey’s security. The east of the Euphrates is an important matter for the security of Turkey. We of course accept that. However, we are of the opinion that alternatives exist for the solution of the problem regarding the east of the Euphrates and a peaceful approach and dialogue feature at the top of the list of alternatives.”
In the press conference held at the party headquarters, Çeviköz touched upon recent developments in Syria and the wider region.
Reminding the announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defence regarding the ceasefire declared by the regime in Idlib, Çeviköz stated that General Alexey Bakin, commander of the Khemeimim base made this announcement for Russia.
Çeviköz, stating that Bakin said “Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, in support of the Astana process meetings, declared a ceasefire in Idlib from 2 August midnight. In response to the Syrian initiative, Turkey is expected to implement in 24 hours the provisions of the Sochi agreements and ensure the withdrawal of militants and weapons from the frontline in Idlib”, continued:
“Then, the Syrian army announced that it would resume operations against terrorist groups in Idlib on grounds that the militants violated the truce and Ankara did not fulfil the requirements it had assumed in the Sochi agreement. The toll exacted by our misguided Syrian policy is becoming more and more aggravated by the commitments made by Turkey in the Idlib agreement struck at the summit in Sochi on 17 September 2018, one year after the agreement to set up a de-escalation zone at the end of the Astana process. As CHP, we believe that at this juncture Turkey must take action in order to solve this problem. The demilitarization of Idlib has remained uncertain since October 2018. Resolutions reached at the Astana and Sochi summits have not been carried into action.”
Stressing that any conflict in Idlib would lead to over three million people flooding into Turkey to seek asylum according to UN data, Çeviköz stated that Syrian refugees has been one of the issues at the top of Turkey’s agenda in recent years.
Emphasizing that Turkey faced the largest migration influx of its history due to the Syrian civil war, Çeviköz said that the number of Syrians in Turkey had reached 3 million 639 thousand 284 according to the latest data of the Directorate General for Migration Management.
He also remarked that refugees lived in provinces other than those they are registered in and that Syrians made up 12 percent of the population even in a small province like Yalova.
Stating how serious the situation had become, Çeviköz said “As CHP, we believe that more attention should be paid to this issue and that is why we have decided to organize an International Syrian Workshop in the coming weeks, the preparations for which are ongoing as I speak. In this workshop, we will talk about the Syrian refugees problem, take stock of the past eight years, examine the current situation, and look into the main problems Syrian refugees are facing, and address all these issues within the context of the employment problem emerging in our country as a result of the economic crisis. We will aim to develop recommendations for solutions.”
Çeviköz stated that international guests would be invited to the workshop.
Operation in the east of the Euphrates
Dwelling on the developments pertaining to a possible operation in the east of the Euphrates, Ünal Çeviköz said that negotiations between the Turkey and the US are ongoing.
Çeviköz stated that a US delegation had come to Ankara the day before with new proposals and added “We pay attention to these discussions and we think a concrete result must be achieved in these discussions. I would like to stress once again the importance of continuing the dialogue, discussions, and negotiations until a concrete result is obtained.”
Taking questions after his statements, CHP Deputy Chair Çeviköz was asked how CHP viewed an operation to the east of the Euphrates. He answered “CHP cares deeply about any issue related to Turkey’s security. The east of the Euphrates is an important matter for the security of Turkey. We of course accept that. However, we are of the opinion that alternatives exist for the solution of the problem regarding the east of the Euphrates and a peaceful approach and dialogue feature at the top of the list of alternatives.”
Asked about his views on the continuing Ambassadors’ Conference in Ankara, Çeviköz said that the theme of the conference was “strong diplomacy at the table and on site” and added:
“Recently, we have not seen a strong diplomacy in Turkish foreign policy either at the table or on site. We can only see warmongering at the table as well as on site. If you would like to solve a problem and if you bring together 200 hundred people at an Ambassadors’ Conference with the theme “strong diplomacy at the table and on site”, then you must work on strong diplomacy in practice and reflect this in your actions as well. CHP has always had a peaceful approach towards the solution of problems. I would like to stress that we take our inspiration from Atatürk.”
“We would like to invite speakers from neighbouring countries”
In response to the question about whether the current Syrian administration had been invited to the Syrian Workshop to be organized, Çeviköz said “We would like to invite speakers from international organizations and neighbouring countries to the workshop. We have started working on this. We are making efforts to find speakers from both international organizations and the countries around us. Otherwise, it would not be an international workshop.”
In answer to the question “How do you view the process called Turkey’s China and Russia initiatives?”, Çeviköz stated that there had been various initiatives from time to time in Turkish foreign policy, and added:
“10 years ago, an African initiative had begun, which was immediately followed by an Asian one. Indeed, this new initiative is called ‘Asia Afresh’. It appears that the previous Asian initiative was not successful enough and a new one was needed. Of course, Turkish foreign policy has several dimensions. This multidimensional policy requires a country like Turkey to take interest in many regions. That is why initiatives related to Asia, Africa, and Latin America, among others, are important for Turkey.”