German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has asked the NATO Secretary General to raise the issue of Turkey’s military operation against Kurds in Afrin as tensions rise in the region.
“I have asked the secretary general of NATO [Jens Stoltenberg] to discuss the situation in Syria and [particularly] in the northern part of the country within NATO,” Gabriel said in a statement published by the Foreign Ministry. He also said that Berlin, together with Paris, urges the sides to “stop further escalation” of hostilities in the region “to facilitate humanitarian access [to the area] and to protect civilians,” calling it the issue of “highest priority.”
Gabriel also noted that conflict resolution should “take into account [the] security interests of Turkey.”“Chances for political negotiations for peace and stability in Syria still exist,” he said, adding that they should not be missed as a result of military action. “I have repeatedly made it clear to the Turkish government,” added the foreign minister.
On Sunday, the German foreign minister criticized Ankara’s actions in Afrin by saying that the last thing Syria needs after the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is another military confrontation on its territory. He also warned that a conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds “carries risks that are inestimable.”
Gabriel praised both Turkey and the Kurds by saying that they had both made great efforts in their fight against Islamic State terrorists. He also urged all sides to focus on the peace process and political negotiations.