Focus on Islamic State, EU foreign ministers tell Turkey

Sofia – The Islamic State extremist group needs to remain the target of military operations in Syria, European Union foreign ministers have told Turkey, expressing concern over the civilian casualties due to Turkish operations in northern Syria.

EU foreign ministers met their counterparts from EU candidate countries, including Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik, whose country has launched an offensive against Kurdish militants in Afrin, an enclave in north-west Syria.

EU support for a UN-led peace process

“The target of military operations needs to continue to be Daesh,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, referring to the Islamic State using an Arabic acronym.

“We reiterated this position to our Turkish friends today.”

Turkey has been targeting the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, which it considers a terrorist organization. However, the United States has partnered with the militia as the main ground force to fight Islamic State.

Understanding for Turkey’s concerns

Mogherini added that the EU supported solving the Syrian crisis through a UN-led peace process, which was the “only way” to begin a “credible political transition” in Syria.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said that EU countries understand Turkey’s “concerns in terms of security.”

“But, of course, we are also concerned that potentially there may be civilian victims and also there may be difficulties opposed to the Geneva process,” Zaharieva told reporters after the meeting.

“We need to coordinate our effort and invest all effort fighting Daesh.”