Turkey and the U.S. are approaching a new era in ties over the handling of the situation in Libya, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on June 8 after a phone conversation with the U.S. president.
“A new era can begin between Turkey and America on the process,” in Libya, Erdoğan told the national broadcaster TRT. “We had reached some consensus in the conversation. We may take such a step,” he added.
“They are also curious about the developments in Libya. He has confirmed the developments and that we are successful in Libya,” the president stated.
He stressed that Turkey stands by Libya’s U.N.-recognized government against the “putschist” Khalifa Haftar and those who support him.
Touting the strategic gains on the battlefield by Libya’s army, which has retaken areas from Haftar, Erdoğan said Haftar will be excluded from any political solution in Libya.
Erdoğan also said he would speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the current developments in Libya, noting that he would raise the issue about Moscow’s support to Haftar.
“I also need to talk to Mr. Putin. I will also talk to him. It was saddening us that France and Jordan were there. It was above all that Russia took place there. He [Putin] had a statement along the lines, ‘I have no soldiers there,’ but he has 19 aircraft there, which is the case. I have a thought as to what steps we can take and plan. At the moment, in my view, the developments show that Haftar can be thrown out of the process at any time,” Erdoğan said.
He added that all of Haftar’s power comes from Russia.
“Tarhuna region was important. It has been taken there. A corridor in the north, near Tunisia, came under the control of Sarraj, including Misrata. Now there are efforts to get Sirte. Now the goal is to take Sirte completely, including the surroundings of Sirte. These are the regions where oil wells are located. It will be much more comfortable as soon as they are handled,” Erdoğan said.
Following the ouster of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a political deal led by the U.N.
The government and western parts of the country have been under attack by Haftar’s forces since April 2019, with over 1,000 killed.
Erdoğan also emphasized that, so far, things have gone well in Idlib, Syria since a ceasefire came into effect in March but noted that some of the agreements reached by Ankara and Moscow have not been adhered to and there have been violations by the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The president and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump held a phone call on June 8 focusing on bilateral relations, regional issues, and the situation in Libya, according to Turkey’s Communication Directorate.
Erdoğan told Trump about his concerns that those behind the recent violence and looting in the protests in the U.S. are working with the YPG/PKK terrorist group operating in northern Syria, said a statement by the directorate. The statement also said the two leaders agreed to continue close cooperation to promote Libya’s peace and stability.
Erdoğan’s concerns over U.S.
“The killing of George Floyd is a manifestation of a racist approach. It is a situation that no conscientious person can accept,” Erdoğan said.
On Trump saying he would declare the left-wing anti-fascist group Antifa a terrorist organization, Erdoğan said the PKK/YPG terrorist group’s cooperation with Antifa is significant.
“It is meaningful to see that PKK/YPG and the terrorist group which is called Antifa are coming together in the U.S. I have told Mr. Trump this.”
Trump told Erdoğan that he was aware of this and that they would hold another meeting and he would convey information about the issue from Turkey.
Erdoğan added that the names of members of FETÖ were given to U.S. officials and that Trump said he will obtain that information and “do the necessary work” regarding these people.
Turkey issues harsh warning to Greece
Erdoğan also touched on recent comments on Hagia Sophia, an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, saying Greece has been interfering in Turkey’s domestic politics.
Earlier, Greece spoke out against a proposal raised in Turkey to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
“Greece is not the one administrating this land, so it should avoid making such remarks,” Erdoğan said.
“If Greece does not know its place, Turkey knows how to answer.”
Handling of coronavirus
On the apparently waning coronavirus pandemic, Erdoğan said he was satisfied with the way his country has handled the virus, adding there are around 60,000 orders for Turkey’s domestically produced ventilators.
Turkey was well prepared and learned from the mistakes of other counties and therefore boosted the production of medical equipment, he said.
Erdoğan also said the government has made sure that there are no price hikes or hoarding of medical equipment.
He said that by the end of the year, their goal was to build five more city hospitals and 30 hospitals overall in 30 big cities of Turkey.