During a lecture at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) headquarters, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took the opportunity to demonize the Syrian government and label Kurdish armed groups as “terrorists”.
The Turkish president was accompanied by the Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz and ECLAC chief Alicia Barcena.
Erdogan began his presentation addressing the potential of closer ties between Turkey and Latin America in trade and cooperation issues. Earlier, during his meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Erdogan stated that Chile will be the “gateway” of Turkey in Latin America.
Chilean FM Heraldo Muñoz (left) giving the welcoming speech to Mr. Erdogan.
Regarding the situation in Syria, the Turkish president accused the “government in Damascus” of “apply violence against its own people” through the use of chemical and conventional weapons. In this regard, Erdogan said Bashar al-Assad “disregarded the people’s demands” and that he is the only one responsible for the crisis.
Erdogan again proposed the creation of a “buffer zone” in northern Syria. The president said his plan is to “eliminate terrorists” and impose a no-fly zone in the Syrian-Turkish border.
He also said that he intends to create “new cities” in northern Syria for receiving refugees and, with the support of the international community, the project could be finalized in “a year and a half”.
Turkey will host a world summit on refugees later this year.
On the other hand, Erdogan used the excuse of fighting terrorism to attack the Kurdish armed groups fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).
Stating that Turkey bears “35 years fighting (Kurdish) terrorism”, the Turkish president called on the international community to support his “anti-terrorist fight” against Kurdish organizations, criticizing Western governments for supporting Kurdish militias in Syria when at the same time they label the PKK as terrorists.
“PKK, PYD, DHKPC, YPG, YPJ may have different names but they are all terrorist organizations”, he added.
However, Erdogan didn’t refer to the military and financial support his government has offered terrorist groups like the Jaysh al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) coalition, Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria) or ISIS.
The Turkish president’s visit to Chile is part of a region-wide trip to Latin America in order to boost economic ties.