Doğu Perinçek, the founder and chairman of the neo-nationalist Homeland Party (VP) and an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said he will travel to Syria with a delegation to meet with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and discuss the issues of terrorism and the safe return of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Perinçek, who on Thursday announced his intent to meet with Assad in two weeks’ time in an interview with journalist İsmail Saymaz from Halk TV, underlined that his direct flight to Damascus in a Turkish plane would be the first such flight in 10 years.
“Ending terrorism [in Syria] and the safe return of [Syrian refugees] in Turkey is what is essential. Syria is forgiving them, anyway. We will ensure their full safety. They will easily go back to their jobs. … Also, ending the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] requires cooperation with Syria,” Perinçek said.
Turkey is today home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, who fled after a civil war broke out in 2011 in Turkey’s southern neighbor.
Designated as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, the outlawed PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
When asked if the Syrian regime had invited him, Perinçek said they had been inviting them for the past seven or eight months, adding that Ethem Sancak, the owner of Turkey’s largest commercial and military vehicle manufacturer BMC and a strong supporter of Erdoğan who joined the VP earlier this month, would be part of the delegation that would also include individuals outside the party, possibly journalists.
The neo-nationalist leader also said the Turkish government was informed about their planned visit to Damascus and that Ankara didn’t give them any warnings not to go there since they, too, had entered into a positive process with the Syrian regime following the Sochi talks between Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in early August.
Referring to the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in the region, Perinçek said Turkey was wrong to support them since they serve as the “shackles on Turkey’s feet” and prevent Ankara from taking “permanent and radical steps.”