German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere stresses Turkey’s importance as a NATO ally during his address at the Munich Security Conference.
Turkey is a key partner in the fight against terrorism, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Saturday.
During his address at the Munich Security Conference, the conservative politician turned down opposition calls to restrict security cooperation with Turkey.
“Turkey remains an important NATO partner,” de Maiziere said, defending the government’s policy of close cooperation between Berlin and Ankara.
“We must also understand that Turkey has suffered from terrorism much more than Germany, and they have much more victims. Of course, Turkey is a key partner for us in the fight against terrorism,” he stressed.
Germany’s far-left opposition party Die Linke has criticised Turkey’s border security mission in the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin. The party has also called for restricting security cooperation with Ankara and suspending arms sales to Turkey.
Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told conference participants that Turkey’s measures against foreign fighters and its fight against the terrorist groups in northern Syria carry significant importance for Europe’s security.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in January to clear its southern border of threats posed by PKK-linked YPG militants. Turkey considers the PKK to be a terrorist organisation, as does the European Union and the United States.
Another stated aim of the operation is to protect Syrians from oppression and cruelty at the hands of the YPG and other groups who have silenced dissent and forced many locals to flee their homes.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s right to self-defence based on international law as outlined in UN Security Council resolutions and the UN charter with respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, the Turkish General Staff has said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and “utmost care” is being taken to avoid harming civilians.