German Foreign Minister Maas described Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurds as an “invasion” and said Berlin saw it as illegitimate. The EU might yet impose economic sanctions on Turkey, Maas told broadcaster ZDF.
Germany rejects Turkey’s justification for a military push into Kurdish-dominated regions of northeast Syria, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Sunday.
“After everything we know and after everything that Turkey itself has cited as a legal basis, we cannot share that view,” Maas said in remarks broadcast by the public broadcaster ZDF.
“We do not believe that an attack on Kurdish units or Kurdish militias is legitimate under international law,” the foreign minister added.
Turkey has cited links between the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting against the Turkish state as justification to clear its border of “terrorists.”
Maas also warned that Germany was keeping an eye on Turkey’s actions following the fragile truce.
“We have been very clear that we are keeping other measures open — and they might also include economic sanctions.”
Refugee deal in crisis?
Maas also said that Berlin would aim to end to the fighting.
“We will do everything for this truce to last longer than just the five days, and the that the invasion is stopped for the time being,” he said.
EU leaders also oppose the idea of relocating up to 2 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey into a proposed “safe zone” in northeast Syria.
“We also do not agree that Syrian Civil War refugees who are now in Turkey are then sent to northeast Syria in this way into this
security zone, possibly against their will,” Maas said.
He said that the topic should be discussed with Ankara together with the EU-Turkey migration deal, which sees the EU pay billions to Turkey to host 3.6 million civil war refugees.
“Because we will not pay money for things that, according to our perspective, are not legitimate or legal,” Maas said.
Insults better than rockets
Notably, Maas described Turkey’s offensive as an “invasion” despite threats from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to label it as such.
Erdogan also lashed out at Maas personally on Thursday, calling him a “political dilettante.”
On Sunday, however, Maas appeared unconcerned.
“The bottom line is that I still prefer when Mr. Erdogan shoots with words and not with rockets,” Maas said.