Alaturka Gazetesi

Thaw with Israel, Russia to boost peace: Erdogan aide

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey’s normalization of ties with Israel and Russia is based on principles of mutual interest and respect, regional cooperation, peace and security, Turkish president’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has said.

In remarks made in a column that appeared in the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper Saturday, Kalin said the thaw in ties with Israel and Russia would have “significant consequences” for Ankara’s foreign policy and regional peace and stability.

He said the recent steps had “the potential to help with the two protracted problems of Palestine and Syria as well as the fight against Daesh and PKK terrorism.”

Ankara struck a deal with Tel Aviv government last week after a six-year hiatus over the latter’s storming a Gaza-bound aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, in international waters in May 2010 and killing 10 Turkish activists.

The agreement, according to Kalin, opens a new era between the two countries on two important areas: Turkish-Israeli relations and the situation in Gaza.

He said two countries would exchange ambassadors and restart economic and touristic relations.

The deal also paved the way for Ankara to send an aid ship carrying 11,000 tons of supplies for the people living in the Gaza Strip. The ship arrived at Israel’s Ashdod port Sunday.

Kalin said Turkey would continue to support the right of Palestinians to seek an independent state and end the Israeli occupation.

“Turkey will continue to have relations with all Palestinian groups and help all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. By normalizing relations with Israel, Turkey will also have a higher chance to contribute to the peace process and prevent unnecessary tensions and loss of life.

“This holds true for the highly critical and sensitive situation in and around Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem,” he said.

Turkey and Russia also restored ties last week after falling out over the shooting down last November of a Russian warplane that had violated Turkish airspace at the Syrian border.

Kalin said the key outcome of the new era between Turkish-Russia relations would be about “the future of the Syrian war and the fight against terrorism.”

He said Turkey’s position on the Syrian war and the future of Bashar al-Assad was well-known.

“A renewed effort between Turkey and Russia will have the potential to contain the situation in Syria. This will also help Turkey fight more effectively against Daesh terrorism coming from the Syrian lands,” he said.


Israel thaw leaves Turkey’s Palestine policy unchanged

By Ilhan Toprak and Enes Kaplan

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish reconciliation with Israel will not change Ankara’s relationship with Palestine, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Tuesday.

“This deal does not mean that Ankara will change its policy on Palestine,” he said during a book fair in capital Ankara.

“Our stance on the Palestinian issue, its independence, the two-state solution and the improvement of living conditions for people in Gaza and the end of occupation is obvious. It has not changed and will not change.”

On Tuesday, Turkey and Israel signed an agreement to resume diplomatic relations six years after the Mavi Marmara incident that saw the two states break off ties.

Ten Turkish activists were killed in May 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the aid ship as it attempted to deliver supplies to Gaza in breach of Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

Under the reconciliation deal, Turkey will supply aid to Gaza and initiate projects to restore the area’s battered infrastructure.

One aid ship is due to set off for Gaza on Friday and Kalin signaled that more would follow. He added that a team of technicians would arrive in Gaza this week to start work on the electricity and water networks.

“The deal paves the way for the necessary steps to be taken quickly to bring a sigh of relief to the people of Gaza,” Kalin said.

In further attempts to restore relations overseas, Kalin said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Russia imposed a range of sanctions against Turkey following the downing of a Russian fighter jet that violated the Turkish airspace last November.

Erdogan sent Putin a letter Monday calling for the restoration of “traditional friendly ties”. Kalin said an “important step” had been taken to normalize relations and the countries had “opened a new page in which problems regarding bilateral ties and regional issues such as Syria, Ukraine and Crimea will be handled through dialogue and negotiation.”

Erdogan’s “very humane approach” in expressing condolences to the family of the Russian airman killed had been embraced by Russia, Kalin said, and the normalization process would proceed on this basis.

He extended the possibility of Turkey paying compensation to the flyer’s family but said such a request had not yet been made.


Turkey: Attacks this week confirm laws should not change

ANKARA (AA) – The attacks seen in Turkey this week serve to reconfirm that Ankara is right to rebuff European Union pressure to change its terrorism laws, said Turkey’s presidential spokesman Wednesday.

“Of course, it is not possible to take any steps that weaken Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told a news conference at the presidential complex in Ankara.

“The episodes that took place yesterday and today once more confirm our being right on this issue,” he said, speaking about two car bomb attacks on Tuesday on Wednesday, in Istanbul and the southeastern province of Mardin.

The EU has said Turkey must revise “the legislation and practices on terrorism in line with European standards” in order for visa liberalization for Turkish citizens to enter into force.

But Ankara has firmly rejected any such change, with Turkey’s EU minister Omer Celik saying that it is not realistic to expect such changes at a time when Turkey is fighting terror organizations such as the PKK and Daesh.

Kalin said, “Our European friends need to stand beside Turkey without compromise” in the fight against terrorism instead of “making suggestions and recommendations that may cause weakness”.

A car bomb attack in Istanbul’s Beyazit district targeted a police bus on Tuesday, martyring six police officers and killing five civilians.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday identified the PKK terrorist organization as the culprit, saying, “The murderer is the PKK terrorist organization.”

On Wednesday, a car bomb was detonated outside a police station in Midyat, a town in the southeastern province of Mardin, killing two civilians and martyring a police officer.

The area has seen considerable PKK activity since the group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, resumed its 30-year armed campaign in July last year.


Turkey: Armenia resolution ‘undermining’ peace effort

BERLIN (AA) – A spokesman for Turkey’s president criticized the German parliament on Monday, accusing it of “undermining” Ankara’s efforts to reconcile with Armenia.

Ibrahim Kalin, writing in a guest op-ed published by German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said in “rewarding Armenia’s lack of interest in meaningful progress, Germany made the Caucasus a more dangerous place”.

“Under the pretext of promoting peace between Turks and Armenians, the German parliament ignored Yerevan’s uncompromising stance and unjustly targeted Turkey,” Kalin added.

The spokesman was referring to the controversial resolution approved by the German parliament last week which described as “genocide” the 1915 relocation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Kalin dismissed the term, saying the accusation directed against Turkey had no legal basis or supporting evidence.

“This politically motivated decision is unlawful, misguided and ultimately harmful to the prospect of reconciliation between Turks and Armenians,” he wrote.

Kalin stressed that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first Turkish politician to acknowledge the pain suffered by Ottoman Armenians in World War I and had taken various initiatives so far to promote dialogue between Turks and Armenians.

However, Kalin wrote that Turkey’s approaches for normalizing relations plus proposals for the creation of a joint commission of historians as well as an examination of archived materials were turned down by the Armenian authorities.

“Instead of accusing Turkey with false claims, Germany should put pressure on Armenia to proceed with efforts to resolve the conflict,” Kalin stated.

The non-binding resolution approved by German parliament last Thursday accused the Ottoman government of 1915 of carrying out “systematic genocide” against Armenians, as well as other Christian minorities.

Turkey denies the alleged genocide, but acknowledges that there were casualties on both sides during the events.

According to Turkey’s viewpoint, deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1915 occurred after some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey describes the 1915 events as a tragedy for both sides.


Turkey to continue ‘taking care of Syrian refugees’

ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey will continue its open-door policy to Syrian refugees despite currently hosting more Syrians than any other country in the world, according to the country’s presidential spokesperson.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Friday, two days before the city begins hosting the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said: “A majority of the burden has been shouldered by Turkey.”

“There are some financial and political challenges but in spite of these challenges when it comes to Syrian refugees, Turkey has an open-door policy,” he said.

“Whatever financial contributions, we will continue to take care of refugees in our country,” Kalin said, referring to aid pledged by the EU to meet the needs of Syrian refugees hosted inside Turkey.

During the World Humanitarian Summit on Monday and Tuesday, attended by 125 of the UN’s 193 member states, at least 50 heads of government will announce several commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.

These include: preventing and ending conflict; respecting the rules of war; addressing forced displacement; achieving gender equality; responding to climate change; ending the need for aid; and investing in humanity.

In 2014, the UN reported that around $540 million of the roughly $135 billion global aid budget was spent on decreasing disaster risk.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to push for an increase in world spending on reducing disaster risk at the summit in Turkey, which is one of the world’s most generous aid donors.

Turkey ranked third in the list of countries with the most international humanitarian work in 2012 and 2013, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, TIKA, says in its Turkish Development Assistance 2013 report – the latest such figures from the agency.

According to another 2013 global humanitarian assistance report, the top five donors were the U.S. with $3.8 billion, followed by EU institutions ($1.9 billion), the U.K. ($1.2 billion), Turkey ($1.0 billion), and Sweden with $784 million.

Hosting some 3 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion on caring for them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.


Turkey: Deportation of Tatars a dark page in history

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s presidential spokesman condemned on Wednesday the World War II-era Soviet deportation of some 200,000 Tatars from the Crimea peninsula.

“We condemn this ethnic cleansing, which is a dark page in history,” Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in the capital Ankara.

“Turkey will never forget the pain of the Crimean Tatars. We are determined not to let future generations forget this pain,” he added.

Kalin reiterated that Turkey also rejects a recent top Crimean court decision to prohibit the activities of the Tatar Mejlis, an assembly of Tatars.

He said Turkey will continue to stand in solidarity with Crimean Tatars.

On May 18, 1944, tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet regime, which accused them of collaboration with occupying Nazi forces.

Around 180,000 people were deported to various regions within Soviet territory, in particular Siberia and Uzbekistan. Almost half of the exiles, who endured many months of harsh living conditions, are thought to have died of starvation and disease.

This 30-year exile continued until 1987, when the Soviet government allowed 2,300 Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland. Another 19,300 followed in 1988.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Since then, the region’s Tatar minority has complained of repression, including arbitrary arrests and detentions.

– Top general’s attendance at wedding of Erdogan’s daughter

The spokesman defended the attendance last weekend of Gen. Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s chief of General Staff, at the wedding of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s daughter.

“Exploiting such an issue like this is actually an unfortunate situation,” Kalin said.

Akar was criticized for serving as a witness at the wedding of Sumeyye Erdogan and Selcuk Bayraktar on Saturday, a day after eight Turkish soldiers were martyred by PKK terrorists in the southeastern Hakkari province.

Kalin said he would let the public decide on the merit of “reckless attacks” on Akar and Erdogan.

“As if they are not the generals and soldiers who are fighting terrorism and resisting the threats…” he added.

The General Staff released a statement on Monday saying that Akar attended the wedding “within the framework of state protocol”.


Aleppo resistance key to Syrian peace, Turkey says

ANKARA (AA) – The fall of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo to regime forces would shatter hopes for peace, the spokesman for Turkey’s president said Wednesday.

Writing in the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper, Ibrahim Kalin said: “The fall of Aleppo will be more than a matter of losing a city. It will be the crushing of the last hope of the Syrian people for peace, freedom and dignity.

“It will be handing the bloody Assad regime another cowardly victory. But more tragically, it will send a painful message to the people of Syria that they are left on their own.”

Although taking the city would be a “key gain” for Bashar al-Assad’s regime, it would deepen the humanitarian tragedy and “embolden the regime in the face of the indifference of the world toward the most cruel and brutal war in recent times,” Kalin said.

Aleppo has seen an escalation in attacks by regime forces and their allies over the last two weeks, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths.

Kalin said UN officials had agreed that the regime had “consistently” violated international agreements aimed at ending the conflict, such as December’s UN Security Council resolution and the Munich agreement in February.

“Now, the regime is concentrating its attacks on Aleppo,” he said. “It is targeting schools, bakeries, hospitals and roads with the aim of punishing civilians in opposition-held areas. This is a typical Russian tactic: Bomb not only the combatants but also their families, homes and towns so that they will give up fighting without actually firing a bullet.

“The opposition has stood up to this indiscriminate killing. But there are no more safe areas in and around the ancient city of Aleppo. Without any hope in sight, Aleppo is becoming another ghost city. Its near-total destruction is a tragic sign of the failure of the international community to save Syria and its people.”

– Geneva talks

Kalin, who speaks on behalf of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also commented on the UN-sponsored Geneva talks.

“The UN diplomatic initiative led by the U.S. and Russia is manipulated to prolong the life of the Assad regime and secure the political calculation of its backers,” he said.

In the meantime, Daesh retains control of large parts of the country, Kalin added. “The politics of diversion and delay in the UN-led Geneva talks is helping this terrorist group recruit new members and expand its spheres of influence.”

While Assad remains in power and continues its “war of attrition under the guise of peace talks”, Daesh will remain an effective force in Syria, Kalin said.

“The two monsters of the Syrian war, i.e., the criminal Assad regime and the terrorist Daesh, feed off each other and share the crime of destroying Syria and its people.”

He added: “If the UN, U.S. and Russia are really serious about stopping this monstrosity, they have to first stop the Assad regime from undermining whatever is left of the hope to bring peace, security and prosperity to Syria.

“Talks in Geneva are of no meaning when barrel bombs and airstrikes burn and destroy everything in Aleppo.”

The full article can be seen at

Alaturka Gazetesi

“Halep yanıyor”

ANKARA (AA) – Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreter Yardımcısı ve Sözcüsü İbrahim Kalın, Beşşar Esed rejiminin Halep’e düzenlediği ağır saldırıların büyük bir insani krize sebep olduğuna işaret etti. Kalın, “Eğer BM, ABD ve Rusya, bu canavarlığı durdurma konusunda gerçekten samimilerse, öncelikle Esed rejiminin Suriye’ye barış, güvenlik ve refah getirmek için kalan son umudu da baltalamasını engellemeliler” dedi.

Kalın, “Daily Sabah” gazetesi için kaleme aldığı “Halep yanıyor” başlıklı yazısında, 5’inci yılına giren Suriye savaşının, dünya kamuoyunun gündeminden düştüğüne işaret etti.

Dünya yüzünü bir sonraki son dakika haberlerine çevirirken, Suriye’de hayatları, toplumları, tarihi yıkan, hepsinden önemlisi savaşın biteceğine, Suriye halkının yeniden barış ve refaha kavuşacağına dair ümidi yok eden katliamın devam ettiğini belirten Kalın, şu değerlendirmede bulundu:

“Son dört yıl içinde, Suriye bir bütün olarak bu kanlı savaşın tüm yükünü çekti fakat Suriye’nin ikinci en büyük şehri ve finans merkezi Halep, son haftalarda en yoğun çatışmaların merkezinde oldu. Halep’in düşüşü rejim ve destekçileri için büyük bir kazanım olacaktır. Ancak bu, bölgede zaten trajik olan insani durumu daha da derinleştirecek ve on binlerce yeni sığınmacıyı Türkiye’ye göç etmeye zorlayacaktır. Hepsinden öte, bu durum, dünyanın son zamanların en acımasız ve vahşi savaşına gösterdiği kayıtsızlık karşısında Esed rejimini cesaretlendirecektir.”

Birleşmiş Milletler Güvenlik Konseyi’nin (BMGK), 18 Aralık 2015’te kabul edilen 2254 sayılı kararının, savaşı sona erdirmek için yeni bir çerçeve ve belirli bir takvim ortaya koymasının, insani yardımları, Suriye’de meşru, demokratik ve geniş kapsamlı bir hükümet için siyasi geçiş sürecini başlatmasının, aynı zamanda DAEŞ ile mücadeleye yardımcı olmasının beklendiğini hatırlatan Kalın, “Rejim, Rusya’nın havadan, Şii milislerin karadan desteğiyle muhaliflere, İdlib, Halep ve ülkenin geri kalan kesimindeki sivillere saldırmaya devam ederken, bu hedeflerin hiç birine ulaşılamadı.” ifadesini kullandı.

Kalın, çatışmaların durdurulması için 11 Şubat’ta varılan Münih anlaşmasının, Cenevre’deki BM liderliğindeki görüşmelere zemin hazırlamasının öngörüldüğünü, Münih anlaşmasının, şubat ayının sonunda ve mart ayında Suriye’de şiddeti belirli seviyede azalttığını hatırlatarak, öte yandan durumun gün geçtikçe yine kötüleştiğini, dahası, Suriye ve Irak’ta DAEŞ’e karşı mücadelede çok az ilerleme kaydedildiğinin altını çizdi.

Esed rejiminin, BM yetkililerinin de onayladığı üzere, BMGK’nın aldığı 2254 sayılı kararını ve Münih anlaşmasını bugüne kadar sürekli ihlal ettiğini vurgulayan İbrahim Kalın, rejimin, yüzlerce sivili öldürdüğünü, insani yardımların ihtiyaç sahiplerine ulaşmasını engellediğini, siviller ile İdlib, Lazkiye’nin kuzeyi ve Halep’te muhaliflerin kontrolündeki bölgeleri bombalamaya devam ettiğine dikkati çekti.

Kalın, rejimin, Halep üzerindeki saldırılarını yoğunlaştırdığını ve muhaliflerin kontrolündeki bölgelerde yaşayan sivilleri cezalandırmak amacıyla okulları, ekmek fırınlarını, hastaneleri ve yolları hedef aldığını ifade ederek, rejimin, tipik Rus taktiği olarak nitelendirdiği “Sadece savaşçıları değil aynı zamanda aileleri, evleri ve şehirleri bombala ki, dolayısıyla tek bir kurşun bile sıkmadan mücadeleden vazgeçsinler” yöntemine başvurduğunu belirtti.

Muhaliflerin, bu gelişigüzel ölümlere karşı durduğunu ancak Halep ve çevresinde güvenli alan kalmadığını belirten Kalın, görünürde herhangi bir umut olmadığını, Halep’in bir diğer hayalet şehir haline geldiğini dile getirdi. Kalın, Suriye’nin neredeyse tamamen yıkımının, Suriye’yi ve halkını kurtarmak için uluslararası toplumun başarısızlığının trajik bir işareti olduğunu vurguladı.

Kalın, Suriye’de savaşın başlamasından bu yana birçok kişinin askeri müdahalenin çözüm olmadığını söylediğine, ancak Esed rejimi, Rusya, Şam yönetimini destekleyen Şii milis grupların tam tersinin doğru olduğunu ortaya koyduğuna dikkati çekerek, şu tespitte bulundu:

“Olayların gidişatını değiştirmek için kimyasal silahlar, misket ve varil bombaları, hava saldırıları dahil her türlü askeri gücü kullandılar. ABD ve Rusya’nın öncülük ettiği BM’nin diplomatik girişimleri, Esed rejiminin ömrünü uzatmak ve destekçilerinin siyasi hesaplarını garantiye almak için manipüle edildi.”

Kalın, bu sırada DAEŞ’in, kontrolü altındaki bölgeleri elinde tutmaya devam ettiğini, BM’nin yürüttüğü Cenevre görüşmelerinde uygulanan oyalama ve geciktirme taktiğinin, bu terörist örgütün yeni üyeler bulmasına ve etki alanını genişletmesine yardımcı olduğunu anımsatarak, koalisyon güçlerinin hava saldırılarının, DAEŞ’in Suriye’nin ve Irak’ın belli bölgelerindeki hareket kabiliyetini kesinlikle sınırlandırdığını ama örgütün ana gövdesinin hala yeni terörist saldırılar düzenleyecek kadar güçlü olduğunun anlaşıldığını bildirdi.

Bunun tipik bir örneğinin, Türkiye’nin Suriye sınırına yakın Kilis kentinde, DAEŞ’in roket saldırılarında 21 kişinin ölmesi olduğunu vurgulayan Kalın, “Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri, koalisyon hava kuvvetlerinin de desteğiyle Kilis sınırı boyunca DAEŞ hedeflerini bombalamış, onlarca teröristi öldürmüştür. Türkiye, bu roket saldırılarını durdurmak için gerekli olan her şeyi yapacaktır.” ifadesini kullandı.

İbrahim Kalın, “Ancak şu bir gerçek ki, Esed rejimi, barış görüşmeleri kılıfı altında iktidarda kalarak yıpratıcı harbini sürdürürse, DAEŞ de etkili bir güç olarak sahadaki varlığını koruyacaktır. Suriye savaşının iki canavarı, suçlu Esed rejimi ve terörist DAEŞ, Suriye’yi ve halkını yok etmek için birbirini beslemektedir. Esed rejiminin şu an Halep ve onun tarihi mirasına yaptığı, DAEŞ’in geçen yıl Palmira’ya yaptığından daha az barbarca değildir. Kadın, çocuk, doktor, hemşire ve yardım görevlilerini fark gözetmeden öldürmenin, savaş suçu ve insanlığa karşı işlenmiş bir suçtan aşağı kalır yanı yoktur.” değerlendirmesinde bulundu.

Suriye’de yaşananların, 1990’larda Bosna’da olanların daha yıkıcı ve insanlık dışı bir tekrarı olduğunu, Bosna soykırımını durdurma konusunda dünyanın eylemsizliğinin, modern tarihte kara bir leke olmayı sürdürdüğünü vurgulayan Kalın, Suriye halkının çektiği acılara ilgisizliğin, insanlık açısından çok daha derin bir utanç olarak tarihe kazınacağını belirttti.

Kalın’ın, makalesi şu şekilde devam etti:

“Halep’in düşmesi bir şehrin kaybından çok daha fazlası demek. Halep düşerse, Suriye halkının barış, özgürlük ve şerefi için kalan son umudu da tükenecek, Esed rejimine başka korkakça bir zafer daha teslim edilecektir. Daha da kötüsü, bu Suriye halkına kendi başlarına kaldıklarına dair acı bir mesaj göndermek olacaktır. Eğer BM, ABD ve Rusya, bu canavarlığı durdurma konusunda gerçekten samimilerse, öncelikle Esed rejiminin Suriye’ye barış, güvenlik ve refah getirmek için kalan son umudu da baltalamasını engellemeliler. Varil bombaları ve hava saldırıları Halep’teki her şeyi yakıp yok ederken Cenevre görüşmelerinin hiç bir anlamı yok.”


52. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Türkiye Bisiklet Turu

İZMİR (AA) – 52. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Türkiye Bisiklet Turu’nda dereceye girenlere ödülleri Gençlik ve Spor Bakanı Akif Çağatay Kılıç ile Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreter Yardımcısı ve Sözcüsü İbrahim Kalın’ın katıldığı törenle verildi.

Turun, İzmir’in Selçuk ilçesinde tamamlanan Marmaris-Selçuk etabının ardından dereceye giren sporculara ve takımlara ödülleri dağıtıldı.

Gençlik ve Spor Bakanı Akif Çağatay Kılıç, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreter Yardımcısı ve Sözcüsü İbrahim Kalın’ın da yer aldığı törende önce etabı ilk üç sırada bitiren sporculara, ardından da turkuaz, kırmızı, yeşil ve beyaz mayo sahiplerine ve geçen sene olduğu gibi takım sıralamasında birinci olan İspanya’dan Caja Rural-Seguros RGA ekibi sporcularına ödülleri takdim edildi.

Bazı sporcular uçaklarına yetişmek zorunda olduğu için ödül törenine katılamadı.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Foreign media trying to justify PKK: Erdogan spokesman

ANKARA (AA) – A spokesman for Turkish president has accused some international media organizations of trying to justify the PKK terrorist organization by carrying out interviews with its leaders.

Ibrahim Kalin’s comments came hours after the BBC published an interview with one of PKK terrorist ringleaders, Cemil Bayik, titled: “Cemil Bayik: An interview with Turkey’s most wanted man.”

Addressing a press conference at the presidential complex in Ankara Monday, Kalin said: “These efforts aimed at exonerating the terrorist organization have nothing to do with journalism.

“This is nothing but indirect support for the terrorist propaganda.”

The spokesman went on to ask what would have been the reaction of countries if a foreign news agency, which is financed with its people’s taxes, had carried out an interview with al-Qaeda members and tried to portray its leadership as “reasonable and legitimate actors” following the 2007 terrorist attacks in the U.K.

“Here, we are faced with a very similar situation,” he said.

Kalin strongly rejected and condemned any kind of effort to justify “PKK terrorism or any other kind of terror.”

The PKK – also seen as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU – resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.

Since then, over 400 Turkish security personnel, including troops, police officers and village guards have been martyred and more than 3,700 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.

– Turkey-Israel ties

About ties with Israel, Turkish President’s spokesperson Kalin said: “We are about to reach the final step in our ongoing negotiation with Israel. A new contact is planned in the near future.

“As you know, the agreement is planned to be signed and the process of normalization of ties is also planned to start once there is an agreement on two articles about compensation [for victims of Mavi Marmara attack] and [Gaza] blockade,” he added.

Ties between the two countries strained in 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a humanitarian aid ship attempting to lift the blockade of Gaza, in international waters, killing 10 Turkish activists.

Ankara demanded an apology over the incident as well as compensation for the families of those killed and the removal of the Gaza blockade. Netanyahu issued an apology in 2013 but the last two conditions remain outstanding.

– Foreign fighters deported

Kalin also gave an update on the number of suspected foreign fighters and extremists deported from Turkey since 2011.

“As of today, over 3,300 suspected foreign fighters have been deported from Turkey, while around 41,000 others have been banned entry,” he said.

Separately, some 9,500 foreigners have been spotted by risk analysis teams at airports and bus stations, with over 2,000 of them being banned entry, he said.

“Again, a total of 2,770 people, including 1,232 foreign nationals have been arrested during the nationwide anti-Daesh operations; 954 have been remanded in custody,” he added.