UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM STATEMENT; ADDS BACKGROUND; EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Burak Bir
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s National Security Council on Wednesday called on the international community to fulfill its responsibility to find a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue.
In a five-hour meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, senior Turkish officials discussed foreign policy, terrorism, and regional developments, said a council statement.
The security council condemned Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and its attacks on the civilian population.
An Egyptian-brokered truce that took effect in the early hours of May 21 ended Israel’s 11-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 289 people, including women and children, and left behind a trail of destruction. Health centers and media offices, as well as schools, were among the structures targeted.
– Anti-terror operations
The council also stressed that military operations along the country’s southern border will decisively continue to neutralize terror groups and to ensure uninterrupted safety.
Turkey launched operations Pence-Simsek and Pence-Yildirim on April 23 in northern Iraq’s Metina and Avasin-Basyan regions near its borders.
The PKK terror group often hides out in northern Iraq, just across Turkey's southern border, to plot terror attacks in Turkey.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.
During the meeting, the operations carried out with determination and success at home and abroad fighting all kinds of threats and dangers that are against national unity and solidarity, especially the YPG/PKK, FETO, and Daesh/ISIS terrorist organizations and activities, were evaluated, the statement added.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and 2,734 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh/ISIS a terrorist group.
The country has since been attacked by the terror group multiple times, with over 300 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks, and four armed assaults.
In response, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.
– Cyprus issue
Ankara will resolutely support the sovereign, equal, and independent two-state solution approach, it noted.
Turkey will continue to take all kinds of measures to protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people, the statement added.
"It is necessary to stay away from provocations, unlawful actions, and aggressive rhetoric that disregard Turkey's rights and interests in order to maintain peace and security in the region through mutual dialogue within the framework of international law and good neighborly relations in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, and to make progress towards resolving the issues," the National Security Council stressed in the statement.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a UN settlement plan in a referendum that year which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.