BY: OZAN CEYHUN*
Turkey is a topic on the agenda at the European Parliament this week. Unfortunately, some lies and baseless claims are likely to be uttered once again. Turkey will be criticized for some imprisoned people who are being tried not because of their journalism activities but because they abetted terrorist groups and contradicted journalism ethics. However, those in the European Union who find it normal for a state of law calling terror-abetting journalists to account are running into a contradiction by reacting against Turkey when the situation involves Turkey. The notion of press freedom, which is glossed over when journalists are charged with counter-terrorism and espionage in Belgium, France or Germany, is deliberately exploited when Turkey is in question.
If the members of the European Parliament closely follow the current developments in Syria and Mosul, they can clearly see that Turkey, which is in a fight against various terrorist groups including Daesh, is very meticulous about press freedom. While many limitations have been introduced to liberties in many EU countries in the face of the terrorism threat, such limitations are not even considered in Turkey, even though it is unremittingly threatened by terrorist assaults.
Despite that, Turkey is constantly subjected to having aspersions cast against it. However, the EU and its people must be the most supportive in Turkey’s counter-terrorism fight. The refugees who fled from the Middle East to Europe have become the EU’s greatest problem in the last two years. The atrocious terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the increasing refugee influx that cannot be controlled by the local administrators of EU countries, and racist tendencies that come to prominence due to such negativities have been negatively affecting daily life in Europe. In this context, Turkey plays a crucial role in terms of resolving all these problems.
Turkey’s support of the EU does not only consist of the agreement on refugees signed between them, which has relieved many EU countries since its implementation.
The anti-Turkey circles have deceived the EU and spread the lie that Turkey abetted Daesh. For a long time, we watched such unethical acts with resentment. Over the last couple of months; however, Turkey revealed that all these arguments were solely lies.
Thanks to Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, those believing the lies that “Turkey abets Daesh” or “the Democratic Union Party (PYD) fights Daesh” could clearly see the fact that these claims were not true.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) kicked off Operation Euphrates Shield in accompaniment with the coalition air forces on Aug. 24 in the Jarablus region of Syria against terrorist groups ensconced in Syria. With the support of the TSK and the coalition forces, the Free Syria Army could retake Jarablus from terrorist groups. The control of Jarabulus switched between the PYD and Daesh several times since 2011, when the civil war began. After the region was purged from all terrorist groups, Turkey helped with some shortages in Jarablus such as electricity, water, cleaning and infrastructure. Thanks to that, refugees started to return to their homes.
The population of Jarablus rose from 3,500 to around 25,000 within just a month. In so doing, the refugees who were living in Turkey for a long time could safely return to Syria. In addition to this, hundreds of families in Azez and Manbij, where terrorists are still in control, took shelter in Jarablus. In other words, a model of a secure zone that would enable Syrians to live in their own country without fear or starvation threat has started to be implemented.
As part of the operation, about 1,200 square kilometers of land have been purged from terrorist groups.
Nevertheless, some politicians in EU countries try to smear Turkey by siding with criminals who are charged for abetting terrorism or espionage in Turkey. I wonder who or what they serve by defaming Turkey. Turkey, which they endeavor to be misrepresent by telling lies to the EU public, is actually one of the leading countries deserving the sympathy of the EU public.
As can be documented with the figures from the Syrian case, by purging the land it intervened in from Daesh, Turkey demonstrated that the group could be eradicated as long as a genuine fight is conducted against it. Also, Turkey proved that the refugee problem could be resolved through the right policies and fighting in Syrian territories, and refugees can safely return to their homes when terrorist groups are eliminated in this way.
This is the fact the EU public needs to know. Surely they would appreciate Turkey’s efforts when they learn the facts.
Turkey showed that the refugee issue cannot be resolved with meaningless lectures and promises and the best way to cope with these problems is to fight against all kinds of terrorism. The country also proved that categorizing terrorist groups into “good” or “bad” is a big mistake. Thanks to this, we can all see the fact that refugees enthusiastically returned to their homeland when all kinds of terror are eliminated.
Now it is time to support Turkey instead of defaming it. While Turkey is doing its best to cleanse Syria and Iraq from terrorism, misleading public opinion with unfair accusations against Turkey can only give hope to terrorists.
*OZAN CEYHUN lives in Germany since 1982. Since October 2000, he has become a member of the SPD. He was elected as Member of the European Parliament on October 23, 1998. He writes columns for Daily Sabah Turkish Newspaper.
(Published in Daily Sabah on Oct. 24, 2016)