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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  October 18, 2019 4:30am-5:01am BST

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after talks with the us vice—president, turkey's government has said it will pause its invasion of north—east syria, targeting the kurds, to allow kurdish forces to retreat from a 20—mile zone on the syrian side of the border. a senior kurdish commander has accepted the suspension, but some further clashes are reported. having secured a brexit deal with european leaders the british prime minister now has the more difficult task of winning the backing of the uk's parliament. there'll be a special sitting of parliament on saturday. the acting chief of staff at the white house has told reporters military aid to ukraine was held up — partly to put pressure on the ukrainians to investigate president trump's political opponents. his dealings with ukraine are the focus of a congressional impeachment inquiry. mick mulvaney has since said that what he said has been misconstrued. now on bbc news,
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zeinab badawi speaks to turkey's foreign minister mevlut cavusoglu on hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk with me, zeinab badawi in ankara. in this exclusive interview my guest is that turkish foreign minister, mevlut cavusoglu. turkey is being condemned for its offensive in northern syria but it says it will press on with its military operations until it has flushed out what it describes as "kurdish terrorists." but is turkey creating further instability in the region and strengthening the hand of extremists? mevlut cavusoglu, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. president erdogan says he will not listen to international criticisms about the turkish military
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operations inside northern syria until victory is achieved. what does victory look like to turkey? well, pkk—ypg is a terrorist organisation posing a threat to our national security, therefore the aim of this operation to eliminate the terrorists at the other side of the border or clean this area from the terrorists. also our operation is aiming to enforce the territorial integrity of syria and this terrorist organisation is aiming to divide the country. i mean, syrian territory integrity is so important for our region and we are very much committed to that. and we also need to liberate local people from the oppression of this bloody terrorist organisation, and also we should lay the ground for the voluntary and safe return of the refugees, or displaced people,
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not only refugees from turkey but idp‘s within syria and also refugees who had to flee to iraq or other neighbouring countries. great, so you've set up what you want to do and the idea is to create a zone of turkish influence which is 400 kilometres long and 32 kilometres deep. have you got that? not yet. have you done it? not yet. what's the timeframe? this is the ninth date of the operation, i can say. and it has been going very well and we are very determined and already two major cities have been cleaned from these terrorists but when we clean these areas from terrorists and then we create this area of the safe zone, we will leave the management of the safe zone to the local people in different cities. you know president trump in a letter that has been leaked, said to president erdogan,
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"don't look like the devil, don't try to be the tough guy, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people." mike pence, the vice president, mike pompeo, the us secretary of state, you are talking to them. what's your message to the americans? well, we have already given our answer to that kind of letter or language, that is unacceptable for the american people either. we have given our answer through this operation and president erdogan has been also emphasising that we can not negotiate with the terrorists and an international warrant — arrest warrant — is also there for these, one of the pkk—ypg leaders. the pkk of course is the turkish—kurdish militant group which is also considered to be a terror group by the united states and the europeans. and they are allied to the ypd, the pyg who are syrian codes. just to clarify that. right, and yesterday
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president trump emphasised that, pkk is worst than daesh isis. for us both of them are the same. both of them are terrorist organisations. so what we have been saying to our american allies is very clear. do not engage with this terrorist organisations. do not provide weapons. and we have tried with them to create the safe zone together but it didn't work. it was just delaying tactics and even during these efforts, they continued providing weapons to these terrorist organisations. and they promised to withdraw this ypg/pyd element from this region — they haven't. so what we have been saying is that they should withdraw these ypg/pkk elements from the area that you have mentioned, the safe zone that we are aiming to create. well we know of course
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that the americans have withdrawn their 1,000 special forces from the region, but did you see that withdrawal from the turkish point of view as a green light with operations with the americans? president trump informed... president erdogan, sorry, informed president trump before we started the operation. he only asked questions about daesh and what will happen to daesh in the prisons and also in the camps, and president erdogan actually said that daesh is our enemy so we will take responsibility in the operation area, if they are in the operation area. so now they are withdrawing. american troops are withdrawing and this is what our american friends have been telling us and also what we see on the ground. but that's not really the case, is it? mike pompeo, the us secretary of state has said categorically, no green light was given to turkey. you've got president trump himself signing an executive order to impose economics sections on turkey, saying things on twitter like, "i'm going to destroy the turkish economy" and so on and so forth. the americans didn't. ..
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which tweets i have to follow of president trump, in five minutes he has been having different tweets, different things and also on turkey. and this is also actually another picture that different voices, different positions are coming from the united states. because of the differences between the administration, and the state department, and the pentagon on this and that. so it also affects us. that's why i have to say, but we haven't asked the green light of anybody else. including the united states. we try to work with them and unfortunately they didn't honour their commitments and that's why we actually decided to start this operation. we decided actually 10 months ago
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roughly, and then president trump asked us since they are leaving, not to start again, and then he proposed us to work together to create the safe zone. and we tried. we tried all the way before with americans and with others but unfortunately we had to start this operation ourselves. but you say that you are confused by what messages are coming out from the united states but it's quite clear on this question of economic sanctions that they are serious. steve mnuchin, the treasury secretary in the united states says these are very powerful sanctions, we hope we don't have to use them but we could shut down the turkish economy if we need to. we've got members of congress, nancy pelosi, saying you know, we are going to be looking at tougher sanctions. your economy can't withstand that — it's very, very fragile. even after those statements, it has been very stable, we have taken enough measures.
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but our national security concern is above everything, for us, for our nation. therefore this is a legitimate security concern and we of course expect our allies to recognise this and to respect this, and if they prefer to continue this language of threatening, frankly speaking we are not afraid of this. and if you cannot... we know that if you cannot eliminate these terrorists today, at the other side of the border, in the future it will be much more difficult and maybe it won't not be possible. it's more important than the sanctions right now. and this is vitally important for us. that's why there is a unity within the country as well and we're not afraid the sanctions. trump and president erdogan are due to meet in mid—november, is that meeting still going ahead?
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well he invited president erdogan repeatedly, on the phone as well, and president erdogan accept this invitation so it depends on the relations and if, frankly speaking, if there is any sanctions on the president of his family, it doesn't make sense to go to the united states. but the invitation is still there, so we are considering it. ok, you were talking about allies. who are your allies now? because the whole dynamics have changed because of your intervention. we have seen the syrian kurds turn to damascus for a rapprochement, syria of course, president bashar al—assad backed by russia. so that effectively puts you at war with syria, doesn't it? no. why with syria? we are committed to the territory integrity and we are just fighting terrorists and we have this right emanating from the international law, un charters, the 51st article of the un charter, and there are many un security council resolutions on counterterrorism,
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so also we have another agreement with the regime or syria. so our right is emanated from all this international law and the agreements and the resolutions. therefore we are fighting terrorism. the thing is, of course we are a nato ally. why did some of the nato allies react this time? 0ur olive branch operation also targeted by ypg/pkk. but it was not at the western side of the river. but now it's changed. now it's changed. you know why? what has changed is because the syrian kurds are now in alliance with damascus, with arab syrian forces and russia. not because of that. now the reactions are as we see more negative, because some of the countries are allies including france. they been trying to divide syria and to create a terrorist state in that part.
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butjust sticking to the point of how the dynamics have changed, the russians have said very explicityl, the special envoy for syria for moscow, alexander lavrentiev, that it would simply be unacceptable and would not allow it, of course for the syrians, and the turkish troops to engage in any kind of military intervention. it seems like it's russia that's really determining what is going on on the ground. russia is also promising us that there will be no pkk or ypg allowed in other side of the border and president putin invited president erdogan to sochi, and we will be going there on the 22nd of this month. therefore, for us, it doesn't matter who is on the other side — russia or regime, or the united states. and our expectation is very clear, there shouldn't be one single terrorist on the other side of our border. so does that mean now... where do you stand
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with bashar al—assad? politically, do you accept him as the political... the status quo now has to be maintained? he is now your ally? no, no they are not our ally. we believe that bashar al—assad can no longer unite the country. but we are at the same time working together with our friends to reach a political settlement which should be the lasting one and the establishment of the constitutional committee is a very crucial step to that end and the first meeting will reconvene at the end of this month in geneva. therefore, we have no political relations with assad, but russia and iran are the guarantors of this regime, and we are the guarantors of the opposition. if there's any message,
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sometimes it goes through... but it's all very mixed now. the opposition to bashar al—assad in the case of the syrian kurds are now fighting alongside him against your troops. look, when it comes to ankara... the situation on the ground has been always very complicated. very complicated. ok, so... and those terrorist organisations like daesh and ypg, they fought each other but they sold weapons to each other, they provided food and everything. we know it is a very mixed picture but the russian foreign minister, sergey lavrov, your counterpart, has said that he will mediate in talks between ankara and damascus. have you discussed this with him? they have been conveying messages from damascus to ankara and vice—versa. and nevertheless, to eliminate these terrorists and terrorist organisation in that part, northern—eastern part of syria i mean, and if russia spends some efforts to take them out, and together with the regime or with others, we don't mind, and of course, we will welcome that.
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so if syrian arab troops are in control of your border area, that's acceptable to you? well, syrian arab forces and the forces of the regime are controlling southern part of hatay, antakya, for instance... but on your border? ..and we have no... that is also on our border over there. but the zone you have, if that's in the hands of the syrian arabs, is that acceptable to you? well, the presence of ypg/pkk, is key for us, they shouldn't be there. otherwise, you know... if the regime is also the southern part of al—bab, and they are staying there and we haven't had any problem with them. unless they don't support terrorists, we don't mind the regime forces are there. our aim is not to fight the regime, or russians... but to fight the kurdish militants? not the kurdish militants, pkk/ypg terrorists. terrorists as you call them.
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don't mix the kurds and the terrorists. i'm not mixing the kurdish people and the terrorists, but actually there are kurdish representatives who say that is exactly what turkey is doing. i'm not, but actually there are kurdish representatives who say that is exactly what turkey is doing. for example, aldar khalil, a syrian, says there is an ethnic cleansing campaign at the hands of erdogan and actually this distinction you've just made about, "no, we are only attacking kurdish terrorists," as you put it, is more than that. well, we have more than 300,000 syrian kurds forced by the ypg/pkk, and we have been hosting them. so they should be able to return as well. this is not an ethnic cleansing, this is a fight against a terrorist organisation, and when we clean this area, everybody should be included to do any governance over there, and more than 300,000... about 350,000 syrian kurds will go back to ayn al—arab, kobane, or their homes. so this is not an effort to change the demography all the country,
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or that region. in fact, ypg/pkk terrorist organisation has changed the demography. let me put to you what's going on the ground, and it's really causing a lot of alarm, because there are huge accusations of human rights abuses going down. i'll give you one example, former british foreign secretary david miliband, now head of the international rescue committee which operates on the ground in northern syria. he said "worse crimes are coming to pass. there are war crimes against civillians, a grave danger to children. as a result this is not a safe zone you are creating but a killing zone". this is unacceptable. i have to disagree, and what he has said is unacceptable for us, and there are some claims and sometimes... but you see the dirty propaganda as well.
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rupert colville, a spokesperson for the united nations human rights organisation, has said that there are hundreds... he says, "we urge the turkish authorities immediately to launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation and to apprehend those that are responsible, some of whom should be easily identifiable from the video footage they themselves shared on social media." and that is about a turkish woman politician... a syrian kurdish politician, woman, who was killed and the footage has been shown... that's exactly what i was trying to say, there is a dirty propaganda, yes, but nevertheless whatever the claim is, we have to investigate. but unless they provide evidence, i have to reject this as part of the propaganda that i have been trying to explain.
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we've heard about turkish airstrikes targeting the city of ras al—ayn line and surrounding areas, which led to about 19 people being killed. humanitarian convoy, you know, in ras al—ayn, which... i9 ypg/pkk elements... including children, including some journalists? 0ur operation has been actually limited and also measured, 0k? and we are targeting only, but terrorists, and terrorist elements. we have enough intelligence from the ground, and we know where they are. they use church, for instance, with their snipers, to attack us. they were expecting us to attack this church, we didn't. they used to schools and civilians as a shelter, and we didn't attack this. we have been conducting this operation very carefully to make sure no civilians are actually affected. you bring up daesh...
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0ur military... yes. you bring up daesh, sometimes known as... daesh, pkk, ypg, they are all terrorist organisations. you bring up daesh, sometimes known as isis, so—called islamic state, there are about 12,000 isis fighters... they have nothing to do with islam. islam means peace. i know, no. "so—called," i said. but somebody doesn't no. somebody used isis to attack islam or muslims, i am underlying this. there are about 12,000 isis fighters held in kurdish—controlled areas inside northern syria, and president erdogan said on the 14th of october, "we hope will ensure no isis fighters leave northern syria." but that's not the case, is it? they have been let loose. you have to actually tell the truth. i'm afraid i have to remind you of this. erdogan said that when we reach these prisons, more than 1,000 daesh terrorists were there, there was no daesh elements, why? because ypg/pkk terrorists actually released them, therefore i'm not responsible for those daesh terrorists that ypg actually released.
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but they are fighting you, they say, so they can't, and now... this isjust a narrative. are you saying there are isis fighters on the loose now? this proves you can never rely on terrorist organisations in our fight against another terrorist organisation. zainab, don't you remember how they supported those daesh elements in raqqa to leave raqqa by buses? they put them on buses. i mean, ypg/pkk helped daesh elements to leave raqqa. but now, what's the situation now, though? former us defence secretary mattis said it's a given isis will come back. they're on the loose, is that the case? we will never let daesh come back, because, first and foremost, they are our enemy. nobody can be sure whether those terrorists, including the foreign terrorist fighters, will be able
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to reach their source countries, but they will reach turkey. so i cannot let them go. i have been fighting... so you will hold them? i have been fighting with them for many years. 0n refugees, you host about 3.7 million syrian refugees. part of your objectives with creating this zone is to send a good number of these syrian refugees back, otherwise we have heard threatening remarks from president erdogan that he willjust open the gates to europe for these syrian refugees. is that a threat? it is not a threat. look, already 370,000 syrian refugees went back to two areas we previously cleaned from terrorist elements, from daesh and pkk elements, 0k, voluntarily. and now we should actually help those displaced persons who want to go back voluntarily. nobody can force them to these safe zones. but now what the us...
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what eu is saying is they will not provide anything to them. it has been a big burden on our shoulders, and what president erdogan said is very clear, 0k? "if you don't want to support this voluntary and safe return, if they don't want to support them, then you should take them to your countries and take care of them there." all right, you've made that clear. is that threatening language? you've set out your position. no, it's not our position, it's fair enough! you've taken your route about the kurdish terrorist problem. you did have peace talks. there was a peace process which broke down in 2015. at the end of that you're going to have to go back to the negotiating table to a solution. military incursions like this will not provide the answer. yes, zainab, we've tried that as well but pkk terrorists only misuse that process.
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and on our side, we did what we had to do. now nobody, none of our allies, are accepting the reality that pkk didn't lay down their weapons, but they abused this process and they increased their presence, and actually they tried to create their confines within turkey. so they misused this opportunity. what they have to do is that they should lay down their weapons. they should stop this terrorism. i don't care about their ideology, but also, in syria, they should, as a first step, they should get out from this safe zone and then they should lay down their weapons and then they should stop their efforts to divide syria. it's fair enough. foreign minister mevlut cavusoglu, thank you very much indeed for coming on hardtalk. thank you for coming
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all the way to ankara. hello. given that we've seen so much in the way of rain and some pretty hefty showers over the past few days, in many parts of the british isles, you've probably forgotten there's another face to be had from autumn. it's the quieter, still, misty, sort of chilly starts to the days, and if that's the thing you've been hankering after, that ridge of high pressure will eventually topple its way towards the british isles, but you're going to have to wait until monday. no doubt about it, in the short term it's been this — the odd bit of blue sky and some pretty hefty showers, all thanks to a big area,
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not of a ridge of high pressure but quite the opposite, in meteorological terms, a big area of low pressure and it's still the boss as we work our way through friday. some pretty heavy overnight rain quitting the scene from the south—east but lingering for a good part of the day through the north—east of england, perhaps into the south—eastern quarter of scotland. following on behind, something a little bit quieter and drier for a time. showers predominantly there across western and southern parts, but gradually some of them percolating away through the course of the day further towards the east. friday into saturday, the same area of low pressure and on the southern flank we may have another area of cloud and rain just skipping in from the near continent to get into the very far south—east. some areas will stay that wee bit drier, we suspect, but this banner of cloud will drag some rain across the eastern side of scotland into the north—east of england yet again, and elsewhere, there will be a peppering of showers. temperatures about 10—15 at the very best.
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and that temperature profile will be tempered across northern and western parts given the strength of the northerly wind. on sunday, we see the same banner of cloud and rain slowly easing its way down into the north of england, leaving behind cold, bright conditions for the greater part of scotland and northern ireland in a straight northerly wind, so not overly warm. and even in the south, you'll have lost two or three degrees, but sunday, a somewhat drier and brighter day away from that little occluded front in the scottish borders in the north—east of england, and we start the new week with that quieter look at autumn with the mists, the chilly starts, some cold nights to come at least for a few days. at least for a couple of days, there will be somewhat drier conditions to be had across the greater part of the british isles. watch out for mist and fog first thing, that could be a bit of an issue, but once the day gets going, a lot of dry weather, very little in the way of blue to speak of, maybe just one or two showers through the irish sea, and on the cool side despite the presence of the sunshine.
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tuesday still dry for the most part but you can see yourself — waiting in the wings, more wet and windy weather.
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this is the briefing — i'm ben bland. our top story: britain and the european union clinch a brexit deal — now borisjohnson has to persuade mp‘s to back it in what's expected to be a knife—edge vote on saturday. i'm nuala mcgovern in brussels where the summit continues, leaders move on to matters on climate change, long—term eu budget and priorities for the next five years. a five—day pause in fighting in northern syria has come into operation — first turkey, now the kurds, say they will honour it. 0vidio guzman, son of the jailed drug lord el chapo, is arrested in a fierce street battle

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