"Until the Syrian people are free, peaceful, and safe, we will remain in this country," President Erdogan says in speech to mark two years of the country's executive presidential system.

Turkey's President Erdogan delivers a speech during the two-year presidential cabinet evaluation meeting in Ankara, Turkey on July 21, 2020.
Turkey's President Erdogan delivers a speech during the two-year presidential cabinet evaluation meeting in Ankara, Turkey on July 21, 2020. (AA)

Turkey has said its soldiers, who have carried out several campaigns in northern Syria since 2016 against terrorists, would remain in the country until Syrians can live in freedom and safety.

"Until the Syrian people are free, peaceful and safe, we will remain in this country," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Ankara to mark two years of the country's executive presidential system. 

"Nowadays they are holding an election, a so-called election," Erdogan said of a parliamentary election in Syria's regime-controlled regions, after nearly a decade of civil war. 

"What kind of an election is that ... the citizens have no choice, they had to go and vote for one man (Bashar al Assad). Now they will declare a so-called victory and celebrate."

READ MORE: Syrians vote for new parliament amid war and economic crisis

Turkey won't violate rights of countries

Turkey's reflexes under its current presidential system are quicker, as well as more effective and comprehensive, in responding to regional and global crises, Erdogan said while looking back at the last two years under Turkey's presidential system, adopted in the wake of a 2017 public referendum.

He also reiterated that Turkey did not seek to violate the rights of other countries, but instead would continue to protect its own rights.

READ MORE: Syria counts votes as reruns delay results

Fight against terrorism

On Turkey's fight against terrorism, Erdogan said over the last two years the country has carried out more than 243,000 military operations against PKK terrorist group.

He said the country also carried out 17,000 operations against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, the group behind the 2016 defeated coup.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorist operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable peaceful settlement by locals: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018), and Peace Spring (2019).

Coronavirus pandemic

On the coronavirus pandemic, Erdogan said that in addition to protecting its own people, Turkey has provided healthcare products to 136 countries and four international organisations.

He said the government was not deterred by the pandemic, as it achieved 93 percent of 2,384 planned actions over 180 days through the end of this June, including the worst days of the pandemic.

Turkey has reported 220,572 coronavirus cases, 203,002 recoveries, and 5,508 fatalities so far.

Recent months have seen declining numbers of daily cases, almost falling below the number of recoveries – a key benchmark – and Turkey has been relaxing measures against the virus and moving towards normalisation.

Libya conflict

Erdogan said Turkey coup plotters who threatened Tripoli were forced to withdraw, referring to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

He said Turkey is closely watching the latest developments in the region, day after Egypt's parliament approved a possible military intervention in Libya. 

But Erdogan said: "no one should get excited. We won't allow it."

Turkey's presidential spokesman and security advisor Ibrahim Kalin said they are against any kind of division in Libya.

"We are absolutely against the breaking up of Libya, whether in reality, or on the map, or politically or geographically," Kalin said during an interview with private broadcaster CNN International.

"That will be a devastating scenario. We have seen similar cases in Iraq, in Syria, in other places. We should draw lessons from that," he added.

Kalin said the Turkish government would continue to support the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, accusing Haftar of sowing "havoc" in Libya.

"He has tried to push his way, and he is trying to divide Libya, or take control of Libya with no legitimacy at all," he said, adding Haftar has "violated every single agreement, ceasefire, or peace process over the last two years."

READ MORE: Libyan tribes, their loyalties, and Egypt's bait, explained

Source: TRTWorld and agencies