President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which happens to be the largest of its kind, and recently arrived in Israel, may contribute to serious massacres against Palestinians and destroy Gaza, amid ongoing tensions in the region.
“What is the U.S. aircraft carrier doing in Israel? It will start to carry out serious massacres there by striking, destroying Gaza,” Erdoğan told a joint news conference with Austrian Chancellor Nehammer in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.
He added: “I have to explain something here. Look, there are over 20 American bases in Syria today. What are America’s bases doing in Syria? … Unfortunately, America (last week) shot down one of Türkiye’s unmanned aerial vehicles. While America shot down the unmanned aerial vehicle, isn’t Türkiye currently America’s partner in NATO?”
“How do we explain this? How will we evaluate this?… Unfortunately, America is currently training, and arming all terrorist groups, and unfortunately, it is turning these places into bloodbaths, whether in Syria, in this region or in the Middle East,” Erdoğan said.
The U.S. has called the downing of the drone last Thursday a “regrettable incident,” but has not explained why U.S. troops were near YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria after Turkish officials warned third parties to steer clear.
He called on all influential actors in the region to make a serious push for peace in the Midle East.
“We call on all influential actors in the region to assume responsibility for the establishment of peace, acting on the principle that ‘there are no losers in a just peace’,” he said.
Erdoğan said any step that could escalate tension, cause more bloodshed, or exacerbate the problems in the region must be avoided.
“Adding fuel to the fire, targeting civilians and civilian settlements in particular will benefit no one,” he added.
Erdoğan Türkiye will try to stop the ongoing war between Palestinian resistance group Hamas and Israel as soon as possible, as he reiterated the importance of a two-state solution. He said the ultimate solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be possible with the establishment of independent Palestinian state with 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.
He noted that he believes tensions will not end in just a week or two.
“That’s why we’re holding talks,” he said.
The president said he would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss regional developments.
“Türkiye is trying to find how it can mediate between Israel, Palestine,” he said.
Gaza-based resistance group Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel early Saturday, firing a barrage of rockets. It said the surprise attack was in response to the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and growing settler violence.
In retaliation, the Israeli army launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Gaza has risen to 765, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said Tuesday. It also said the number of injured surged to 2,900.
The Interior Ministry in Gaza said the Israeli army has “intensified its aggression” on Gaza with hundreds of raids.
The Israeli army said it had struck over 500 targets in overnight raids on Gaza, which they claimed were targets belonging to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.
At least 900 Israelis have been killed and over 2,600 others wounded in the fighting, according to local media.
‘Türkiye, Austria willing to enhance ties’
Meanwhile, the president said Ankara and Vienna have agreed to enhance relations.
“We have a common will to further develop our relations,” Erdoğan said, as he called the first visit from Austria at the chancellor level in 22 years “historic.”
Turning to the fight against terrorism, Erdoğan said: “International cooperation and common will are essential in the fight against terrorism. We expect closer cooperation from Austria on this matter.”
About Ankara’s EU membership process, Erdoğan said it is known that Türkiye is sincere in advancing their relations together.
“The integration of Europe will be completed only with Türkiye’s full membership in the union. We will not accept any alternative but full membership,” he stressed.
Türkiye applied for EU membership in 1987 and has been a candidate country since 1999.
Negotiations for full membership started in October 2005 but have stalled in recent years due to political hurdles erected by some countries.
Regarding economic ties with Austria, Erdoğan said the two countries want to reach a trade volume of $5 billion.
“Austria’s direct investments in Türkiye have reached $11 billion. Türkiye’s direct investments in Austria are $716 million. It is also a good incentive for the chancellor to participate in today’s business forum and provide direct contact with our business people,” he said.
Nehammer said Austria wants to establish intense economic cooperation with Türkiye. “We attach great importance to this. Türkiye is a reliable partner for Austria in every respect,” he said.
“We need to revitalize our relations with Türkiye even more. Türkiye is truly an extraordinary economic partner,” said Nehammer. “We are open to this cooperation both in terms of industry and trade and we want to develop it.”
Nehammer said he was impressed by the creativity of industry in Türkiye and the progress the country has made in research.
He also hailed Erdoğan’s efforts to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Source : Daily Sabah