Sevil Erkuş - Hürriyet / Istanbul, May 14 () - Foreign fighters from “90 different countries” have tried to pass through Turkey on their way to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.
“Turkey is the only member of the alliance to have borders with Daesh (ISIL). This is not a sustainable situation. It poses a significant threat to us” he said.
The NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in the southern province of Antalya would be an opportunity to share the issue with the members of the alliance, Çavuşoğlu said, speaking at a press conference in Antalya.
The threat from ISIL to the south of the alliance’s borders would be a key issue of the two-day meeting, the minister said.
“Once they enter our country, it becomes very difficult to control our borders. We have to rid the region of terrorism. For this we need determined policies” Çavuşoğlu said, adding Turkey has put travel ban for 13,800 suspected fighters.
He welcomed a train-equip program for moderate Syrian opposition on Turkish territory in cooperation with the United States but said more was needed.
“This will be effective but this will not be enough on its own and we have to take further steps,” he said, adding measures like air strikes were also not sufficient alone.
“In order to eradicate terrorism, we need to deal with the grassroots of terrorism” he noted.
Turkey to urge NATO members for awareness on Crimea
At the two-day gathering, Ukraine has asked for a special session with a particular focus on the Ukrainian crisis. Turkey, for their part, will urge members of the alliance for more awareness on the issue of Crimea and the problems of Crimean Tatars, a Turkish diplomat told Hürriyet Daily News.
“The fact Turkey is hosting this years’ NATO Foreign Ministers meeting shows the importance it attaches to the alliance’s solidarity and collective defense during this international security situation that we are in” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The NATO-RSM session is to be attended by foreign ministers from 28 NATO member states, including Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Sweden, Montenegro, Mongolia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Japan and Jordan.
The first day will see a session devoted to developments in Ukraine, after which a communique will be published, the ministry added.
On the second day, the 28 member countries will discuss preparations for NATO’s upcoming 2016 Warsaw Summit.