Turkey and the US are approaching a new era in ties over the handling of the situation in Libya, said Turkey’s president on Monday.
A new era can begin in bilateral relations on the transition process in Libya, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told national broadcaster TRT soon after a phone call with his US counterpart Donald Trump.
“After our call this evening, there could be a new era between the US and Turkey regarding the (Libya) process, we had some agreements,” Erdogan said.
He also stressed that Turkey stands by Libya’s UN-recognised government against the putschist Khalifa Haftar and those who support him.
Touting the strategic gains on the battlefield by Libya’s army, retaking areas from Haftar militias, he said Haftar will be excluded from any political solution in Libya.
Erdogan also said he would speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Moscow’s claims that it does not have any soldiers in Libya.
“They have Pantsirs there, they sent 19 warplanes to Libya,” Erdogan said. “After talking with him, we can plan ahead.”
Erdogan also stressed that backing the so-called “Cairo Declaration” by Russia saddened Turkey.
“Especially Russia’s participation in Cairo Summit with a different role along with Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi administration, France, Jordan saddened us,” Erdogan said.
The declaration called on Saturday for a cease-fire in Libya as of Monday and proposes a new assembly to form the House of Representatives and Presidential Council.
Following the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under a political deal led by the UN.
The government and the Western parts of the country have been under attack by Haftar’s militants since April 2019, with over 1,000 killed.
YPG/PKK alignment with Antifa
During the call, Erdogan told Trump about his concerns that those behind the recent violence and looting during protests in the US are working with the YPG/PKK, a terrorist group operating in northern Syria, according to a statement by Turkey’s Communication Directorate.
“The PKK/YPG’s alignment with the terrorist organisation called Antifa in the US is noteworthy. I told this to Mr Trump,” Erdogan said.
“The support given to them is significant. ‘I ask particularly your sensitivity on these issues,’ I said. These (groups) conducted very serious operations in Syria.”
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.
Trump told Erdogan that he was aware of the matter and that they would hold another meeting and he would convey information about the issue from Turkey, Turkish president said.
Erdogan added that the names of members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) were given to US officials and that Trump said he will obtain that information and “do the necessary work” regarding these people.
Converting Hagia Sophia into mosque
Erdogan also touched on recent comments on Hagia Sophia, saying Greece has been interfering in Turkey’s domestic politics.
Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia is an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires.
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,” Erdogan said.
“If Greece does not know its place, Turkey knows how to answer.”
Handling of coronavirus
On the apparently waning coronavirus pandemic, Erdogan said he was satisfied with the way the country handled the virus, adding that there are around 60,000 orders for Turkey’s domestic ventilators.
Turkey was well prepared and learned from the mistakes of other counties and therefore boosted the production of medical equipment, he said.
Erdogan also said that the government made sure there was no price hikes or hoarding of medical equipment.
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