Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the US Vice President Joe Biden that just as in the US, there is a rule of law in Turkey, terror propaganda and statements which mean to support terror acts cannot be regarded within the scope of freedom of speech.
“When Internet freedom is curtailed and social media sites like YouTube or Twitter are shut down and more than 1,000 academics are accused of treason simply by signing a petition, that’s not the type of example that needs to be set in the region,” Biden said on Friday during the first day of his visit in Turkey.
Last week numerous academics had issued a manifesto, accusing the Turkish state of violating human rights in southeastern and eastern regions, which sparked official investigations against them on the grounds that they have committed “terrorist propaganda” by supporting the PKK terror organisation.
Erdogan’s office released a statement following the high level meeting in Istanbul between American and Turkish leaders on Saturday, stating that he was pleased with the American solidarity towards Turkey concerning the recent Istanbul and Diyarbakir terror attacks.
At the same time, Erdogan underlined that the public should be supplied with the most reliable information and given proper messages regarding Turkey’s battle against terrorism.
The Turkish president told Biden that Turkey has been expecting sensitivity from high-level officials of allied powers, emphasising that they should stay away from expressions, which could serve the aims of certain groups trying to sabotage Turkey’s decisive fight against terror.
In addition, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday urged the United States’ Vice President Joe Biden to come to straightforward terms with PKK terrorism, after Biden criticised Turkey’s actions concerning the restriction of social media outlets and investigations against a number of Turkish academics over their alleged support to PKK terrorists.
US and Turkey consider joint action in Syria
Following a meeting with Davutoglu, US Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that the United States and Turkey are prepared for a military solution in Syria, if a political solution is not possible.
"We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared ..., if that's not possible, to have a military solution to this operation and taking out DAESH," Biden said at a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
DAESH is the pejorative Arabic acronym for the terrorist group which holds parts of Syria and Iraq.
Biden said that he and Davutoglu also discussed how the two NATO allies could further support Sunni Arab opposition forces fighting to oust the Syrian regime leader, Bashar al Assad.
He also said that Washington recognises that PKK terrorists in Turkey are as much of a threat to Ankara as DAESH, and that Ankara had to do whatever was needed to protect its people.
PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US.
"They are simply terrorist groups and here in Turkey, they threaten and do harm and are of severe consequence to the interest of the people of Turkey and we do recognise that," Biden pointed out, reiterating that Turkey was a "strategic partner" of the US.
Biden said DAESH was not only a danger to Europe, but also a particular threat against Turkey.
Davutoglu additionally said that terrorism does not threaten only one country, it threatens all neighbouring countries in the respective region.
"Whichever cultural orientation terrorism is coming from, it is a humanitarian crime. We do not see a difference between PKK, Al Nusra, DHKP-C [an outlawed far-leftist group in Turkey], DAESH," said Davutoglu.
Both the US and Turkey are sensitive to the fight against all terrorist organisations, Davutoglu underlined.
"Turkey sees three main threats in Syria. One is the [Syrian] regime, another is DAESH, and third is the YPG," said Davutoglu, adding that the YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK.
YPG is the militant wing of the PYD which is considered as the Syrian extension of PKK by Turkey.
He declared that Turkey did not want to see either DAESH or PKK elements near its borders.
Davutoglu also said the PKK presence in northern Iraq required Turkey’s military deployment in the country in order to keep up its fight against PKK and DAESH more effectively in the region.
Turkish Armed Forces on Dec. 4 deployed around 150 soldiers and 25 tanks to the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul, to replace the troops that have reportedly been training Peshmerga forces in the region against DAESH, since March 2015.
Davutoglu’s office released a statement following the meeting, saying that the US and Turkey “have reached an agreement to act in coordination with each other,” regarding Turkish training activities in the Bashiqa camp.