President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gathers cabinet meeting, first time after weeks of break due to Covid-19, to discuss Syria's Idlib, conflict in Libya, and pandemic measures.

Turkey's President Erdogan announces further easing of Covid-19 curbs following a cabinet meeting in capital Ankara.
Turkey's President Erdogan announces further easing of Covid-19 curbs following a cabinet meeting in capital Ankara. (Reuters)

Turkish president on Tuesday reiterated Ankara's support for Libya's UN-recognised government in fight against warlord Khalifa Haftar, saying Turkey defeated the warlord's attempts to overthrow Libya's government. 

"We foiled Haftar's invasion plan in Libya," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a press conference following a roughly three-hour cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.

The descendants of Libya's anti-colonial hero "Lion of the Desert" Omar Mukhtar defeated at the gates of Tripoli "legionaries" sent from all over the world by "those would try to occupy" the country.

"We will stand next to our Libyan brothers, not the putschists, not the imperialists," Erdogan said, referring to Haftar and his supporters.

Erdogan also added that Turkey will share its knowledge and experience in all needed areas with Libya's people.

Turkey's backing to GNA

Ankara’s support for Libya's UN-supported Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has helped shift the balance in the country, allowing the Tripoli-based forces to retake the capital's airport and gain the upper hand against the rival militia chief Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar militants are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia.

"[The] will of Libyan people cannot be bought with petro-dollars. Everyone needs to accept this," Erdogan added.

Syria stirring trouble in Idlib

Erdogan took a dig at the Syrian regime, saying it was increasing provocations in northwest Idlib region and that Turkey would not allow it to become a conflict zone again.

On Monday, jets bombed several villages in the opposition-held region in the first such air strikes since a Turkish-Russian ceasefire deal over three months ago that halted major fighting.

Turkey and Russia reached a deal for a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province and it had seen to be holding. 

Months of fighting had left entire towns destroyed and abandoned, forcing more than two million people to flee their homes. 

Turkey relaxes coronavirus restrictions further

President Erdogan also announced lifting of stay-at-home orders for people aged over 65 and for children as part of a further easing of coronavirus restrictions.

Turkey had already lifted restrictions on intercity travel and allowed restaurants, cafes, parks, and sports facilities to reopen on June 1 after a sharp slowdown in the number of new cases and fatalities due to the virus, the lung disease caused by it.

Erdogan said his government would provide incentives, dubbed "Employment Shield", to boost employment and would support industry to maintain export-and production-oriented growth to revive the economy.

"We will support employment for young people under 25 and enable them to get (work) experience," he said, adding that "normalisation support" would be provided to employers.

Turkey's Covid-19 data for June 9.
Turkey's Covid-19 data for June 9. (TRTWorld)

Quick recovery 

The Turkish economy is expected to tip into recession as a result of the government's containment measures, but Erdogan has said there will be a quick recovery.

He said that a stay-at-home order for those aged under 18, in place for two months, was lifted on condition that young children were accompanied by parents, while elderly were to be allowed out between the hours of 10 am and 8 pm.

Cinemas, theatres, and wedding halls will open from July 1, while restaurants and cafes will be able to remain open until midnight, two hours later than previously allowed, he added.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies