President Erdoğan: "We have neutralised over a hundred terrorists so far, together with those in northern Iraq. We have no choice but to keep going with this process. We will eradicate terrorism and terrorists."
On the flight back from his visit to Azerbaijan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the agenda with reporters and said, "We could never vote in 'favour' of NATO membership for countries that support terrorism, as long as Tayyip Erdoğan is in charge of the Republic of Türkiye."
Stating that they had a proud day during the visit they made upon the invitation of President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Erdoğan said that the excitement and enthusiasm of the young people of Azerbaijan and what they witnessed there made them very pleased.
Expressing that they are excited to start a new "one festival" tradition in Baku with the slogan of "one nation, two states", President Erdoğan said he expects to receive similar calls from other Turkic states.
Emphasising that they have crowned the May 28 Independence Day of Azerbaijan with a magnificent event, President Erdoğan noted:
"We noticed that the TEKNOFEST technology festival, which was held in Azerbaijan for the first time outside of Türkiye, won over the hearts of all participants. We were especially pleased with the keen interest of our young people, who represent the guarantee of our future, in the festival. This year's TEKNOFEST was elevated by the inclusion of Prof Aziz Sancar, MD. Seeing our Azerbaijani youth engage in the competitions in a team spirit with their science and technology projects has made us tremendously proud. Our favourites, including Türk Yıldızları, SOLOTÜRK, Hürkuş, Akıncı and TB2, were on display over Baku. Our respective Ministries of Industry and Technology have signed two key agreements for better digital transformation and technopolis cooperation. Nearly 50 of our country's most prominent companies attended the festival. There was a lot of attention in our defence industry companies' display of national and domestic products."
Expressing their delight at the participation of delegations from the member countries of the Organisation of Turkic States in the festival, President Erdoğan emphasised the importance of TEKNOFEST as a platform for bringing together scientists and technologists from all over the Turkic world.
"We will undertake many more projects together"
Stating that they want to expand the festival to friendly and allied countries in the future, President Erdoğan said that the young participants of TEKNOFEST will be the scientists of tomorrow who will design and produce unmanned aerial vehicles, artificial intelligence, and digital technologies.
President Erdoğan remarked that they seek to build partnerships that would result in the most advanced national technology and software systems in the defence industry, adding, "We will, godwilling, undertake many more projects together as two fraternal countries that have elevated their relations to the level of alliance through the Shusha Declaration."
President Erdoğan revealed that as the Term President of the Organisation of Turkic States, his priority areas include economic cooperation, education, environment and energy, science and technology, and reiterated that this year they upgraded Türkiye-Uzbekistan relations to "comprehensive strategic partnership" and Türkiye-Kazakhstan relations to "enhanced strategic partnership."
After evaluating bilateral relations with Aliyev, which stands at an excellent level, and the state of affairs in the region following the Karabakh Victory, President Erdoğan noted that the ministers in the delegation had fruitful meetings with their interlocutors, which would deepen collaboration for the next term.
President Erdoğan underlined that Türkiye will continue to support the establishment of transportation links, urbanisation, and reintegration of Karabakh into the world of manufacturing, saying, "Our relevant institutions and businesses will continue to collaborate with their Azerbaijani counterparts to revitalise agricultural lands. Hence, we will have assisted our Azerbaijani sisters and brothers in reclaiming their ancestral lands, which they have been pining for years, as quickly as possible.”
"We continue the normalisation process with Armenia in good faith"
President Erdoğan referred to the victory in Karabakh as ushering in a new era in the Caucasus, saying:
“This epic victory has eliminated the hurdles to permanent peace and comprehensive normalisation in our shared geography. We feel this historic chance should not be wasted. We are happy with Azerbaijan and Armenia's efforts to directly resolve their differences. As Türkiye, we endorse the parties’ initiatives to resolve border issues, negotiate a peace treaty and open the transportation corridors. The success of these efforts will benefit the entirety of our region. It is especially reassuring that the border commissions conducted their first meeting on May 24 and that the Zangezur Corridor has made progress. We continue the normalisation process with Armenia in good faith. We will continue to increasingly strengthen our ties with Azerbaijan for the sake of regional security and welfare. God willing, along with my brother Ilham, we can push the two countries' friendship and collaboration to new heights in every field. May Allah clear our paths and bestow us good fortune.”
President Erdoğan expressed appreciation to the Azerbaijani people, who welcomed them with open arms in the person of Ilham Aliyev and congratulated the Azerbaijani authorities, ministries, companies, official institutions and T3 Foundation for their contribution to the successful execution of TEKNOFEST Azerbaijan.
"The talks did not meet expectations"
Following his remarks, President Erdoğan responded to questions from press members.
Upon the question, "The Swedish and Finnish delegations were recently in Türkiye and talks were held. Have Türkiye's concerns been addressed during the talks? Can we expect a move towards the extradition of terrorists from the other side?" President Erdoğan said, "Unfortunately, the talks held with Finland and Sweden by our delegation did not meet expectations."
President Erdoğan added:
"They have expectations, but they have not taken the necessary steps towards Türkiye. Furthermore, they continue to let terrorists wander the streets of Stockholm, Sweden, and protect them with their own police while we have these discussions. In fact, on the evening of the day of the meeting, they allowed a terrorist named Salih Muslim to speak on Swedish state television, and so they have wronged us in several ways, and they continue their negative attitudes and methods toward the F-16 issue and other matters. They are neither honest nor sincere. We cannot repeat the errors of the past with regard to the nations that harbour and nurture such terrorists within the security organisation NATO. What happened in the past? Specifically, Greece withdrew from NATO in the past, and the Turkish government at the time paved the way for Greece's return. Greece echoed these sentiments, asserting that nothing would happen. You know, as of now, Greece owes Europe 400 billion euros, certainly more but not less.
The US now has five plus four, totalling nine, bases in Greece. Against whom then are these bases formed, and why are they there? They are saying, 'Against Russia...' This is a lie; they are not being honest. Given all of this, their stance towards Türkiye is evident. Remember what they made Mitsotakis do a few days ago? They opened the doors of the United States House of Representatives and Congress to him to deliver a speech. Did they applaud during his speech? They applauded. Have F-16s been mentioned in each of these events? It was mentioned. We believe that a Muslim cannot be stung twice from the same hole. They put us through this situation once, and we will not repeat it. We could never vote in 'favour' of NATO membership for countries that support terrorism, as long as Tayyip Erdoğan is in charge of the Republic of Türkiye."
"We will not pay the price once more"
Upon the question, "How do you think Sweden and Finland's request to join NATO and the subsequent process have affected the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine or the hopes for it to end?" President Erdoğan said, "First, as you are aware, Russia does not view these matters favourably. The Finland issue is very troubling for Russia. Why? Because they share a border. Due to its position as a border state, it opposes Finland's NATO membership."
President Erdoğan stated that Russia opposed the membership of all the Scandinavian nations in NATO, adding, "In our hearts, we hope that this war between Russia and Ukraine would come to an end as soon as possible with peace, but it appears that the situation is growing increasingly dire with each passing day. On Monday, I will speak by phone with both Russia and Ukraine. We will continue to urge the parties to maintain dialogue and diplomacy channels."
In answer to "What can be done regarding the project to transport Israeli or the Eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe to pass through Türkiye? Is it possible to establish a link with the TANAP line?" President Erdoğan said that Türkiye's new drilling vessel and seismic research vessels had identified locations in the Mediterranean.
Stating that drilling vessels will work in these designated locations, President Erdoğan said, "Our Minister of Energy and Natural Resources will meet with his counterpart and Israeli officials in order to discuss taking such a step with Israel regarding natural gas. If we consider the information provided by our Minister of Foreign Affairs, they indicate that they are prepared to take such a step, and we will continue working within this framework."
Remarking that they will thus have taken steps to improve Türkiye-Israel relations, President Erdoğan also noted that the current outlook on the issue was optimistic and that he hopes that the developments in this direction will be achieved quickly.
"We cannot allow even the slightest attack to go unanswered"
President Erdoğan responded to a question about the possibility of an operation in the north of Syria as follows:
"We cannot allow even the slightest attack against Türkiye in the north of Syria to go unanswered. The north of Syria serves as a focal point for certain terrorist organisations. These focal points are present in all of these Syrian regions, from the northeast to the northwest. Unfortunately, all coalition forces, especially the US, are providing these terrorist organisations with lethal weapons, tools, equipment and ammunition, and they continue to do so. The US has sent thousands of aid trucks to this location. To whom? To terrorist organisations PKK, YPG, and PYD. These aids were provided to all of them, and it still continues. They even provide training to them in the region. Are we to continue ignoring these facts, despite how obvious they are? In the same way that we conduct operations against the PKK and its proxies in the north of Iraq, the situation in Syria is much more relevant and significant. Like I always say, we will come down on them suddenly one night, and we must. Are we not going to make them pay for our martyrs? We neutralised roughly thirty terrorists in two days. Including the ones in the north of Iraq, we have neutralised over a hundred terrorists so far. We have no choice but to keep going with this process. We will eradicate terrorism and terrorists."
In reply to the question, "Regarding the operation, do you have any contacts or diplomatic traffic with the US? If so, how is this process progressing?" President Erdoğan said, "Everyone must first fulfil their responsibilities in regard to these issues. The US must do its part, as well. If the US is not fulfilling its duty in fighting against terrorism, what will we do? We will take care of it ourselves. It is not possible to fight against terrorism by requesting permission from a third party."
In response to the question, "Do you think it is possible for Greece to normalise relations while the new generations are being raised with anti-Turkish sentiment in Greece? How do you see the possibility of Greece abandoning its anti-Turkish sentiment?" President Erdoğan said:
"Didn't we suspend the High-Level Strategic Council Meetings with Greece? Didn't we announce it? What does it mean? It means 'Greece, pull yourself together.' You did not tidy yourself up, so we suspended the High-Level Strategic Council. As of now, Mitsotakis is no longer my interlocutor. Why? I only take honourable politicians seriously. We had agreed not to include third countries in our dispute with him over dinner, and he promised this to me. Despite this, fifteen days later, he paid a visit to the US and made a speech at the Congress against Türkiye. For what? For the applause, he would get there. I am sorry. We cannot do anything with them. With this much armament and so on, there is nothing to be done with those who run this process. There is only one thing we can do, we are friends with those who are our friends, but they should be aware that we will do what is necessary to those who view us as the enemy."