Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that Ankara is not preparing for a military operation inside Syria or Iraq in the near future, unless Turkey is threatened or attacked by “terrorist groups” from inside the two countries.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Davutoglu said that Turkey feels it is within its rights to defend itself if attacked by “terrorists”, even if other countries, such as the US or Russia, had a different opinion.
He added that his country is working with other countries in the region, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as Russia and the US, to establish a buffer zone inside Syria.
“This zone will initially be established around the Turkish-Syrian borders and enforced by air support from the international and regional partners,” the prime minister said.
Davutoglu said that Turkey will not use this zone to enter into Syria militarily, but, instead, to create a safe haven for the Syrian refugees through which a system of international assistance and aid programmes can be established to help them inside their own country.
The prime minister stressed that his country has been at the forefront of fighting “terrorism” that comes from either the Kurdish separatist group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), both of which have been bombed by the Turkish air force in border areas inside Iraq and Syria since last summer.
In the aftermath of the Turkish election on November 1, Davutoglu said that his government will implement the reforms it promised the Turkish people during the campaign period.
“We will focus on helping the youth and women sectors as an important component of Turkish society, and the economy,” Davutoglu said.
“Our government will increase political reforms and allow more political freedom for all segments of Turkish society, including religious and ethnic minorities.”
Davutoglu said that his party will work with other political parties to amend the 1980 constitution ,which he described as a “constitution that came as a result of the 1980 coup”.
“Our changes will be based on writing a constitution that will serve the people, not the other way around,” he told Al Jazeera.
The prime minister said that Kurdish and other minority rights are important for Turkey, which he called “an issue of democratic reforms, not an ethnic or racial issue”.
“Therefore, we will tackle all these issues in terms of increasing our democratic reforms and allow more freedoms for everyone,” Davutoglu said.
Translated by Ali Younes @