Iraq Increases Forces Near Turkish Border to Counter Ankara Tensions

by Garry Watts March 28, 2018, 0:21
Iraq Increases Forces Near Turkish Border to Counter Ankara Tensions

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey's intelligence chief would meet Iraqi officials to discuss an Iraqi military operation in Sinjar, a region of north Iraq that is home to the country's Yazidi minority.

And a row over Greece and Cyprus that erupted last week has added another point of contention just days before the talks.

All three European leaders praised the positive role that Turkey has played in the refugee crisis, taking over in several million Syrians and housing them in camps, thus alleviating the flow towards the EU.

Erdogan, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, met in the Black Sea city of Varna.

The Turkish lawyers of the two men had asked for their release.

The Turkish leader also extended his honest condolences of the Kemerovo tragedy and offered the words of sympathy to the families of those killed in the disastrous shopping mall fire.

Al-Abadi's statement says he reassured his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, in a telephone conversation that he rejects any "violation" against Turkey through Iraqi territory.

President Erdogan speaking during a joint news conference following a Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria's Varna.

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"We have zero pressure on our border because of Erdogan".

The statement on Thursday by the 28 European Union members meeting in Brussels condemned Turkey over Ankara's arrest of two Greek soldiers and its promise to prevent the Greek Cypriot government from exploring for oil and gas.

So far this incentive has not been realised and Erdogan is expected to press this point strongly in the talks.

Erdogan has alarmed the West with a massive purge since a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara, as Washington views the SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey.

"I hope that we have left a tough period in the relations between Turkey and Europe behind us", Erdogan said and voiced hope that "a first step was taken here toward restoring trust with Europe".

In Varna meeting, the European Union officials' perspective was an open indicator that the bloc does not want to discard Turkey from Europe because of its own interests, while once again presenting "home works for Ankara to meet requirements of Copenhagen criteria" in fundamental rights, and wants Ankara to "remain as a western country", Uluc Ozulker, Turkey's former ambassador to the European Union said.

"It would be a mistake for a Europe that claims to be a global power to keep Turkey outside of expansion policies", Erdogan said.

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