Turkish PM: “Turkey seeks to eliminate development gap in country”


    – Prime Minister Binali Yildirim highlights government’s work to rebuild districts destroyed by terrorists

    Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Saturday said one of the main goals of his government was to eliminate the development gap in the country.

    Speaking in the central Anatolian Nigde province, Yildirim pledged security and stability for everyone across the country.

    Referring to the suffering of people in eastern and southeastern Turkey due to terror threats, he said the government was trying to “bind up wounds”.

    He highlighted the government’s work to rebuild the districts destroyed by terrorists and said over 26,000 houses have been built in the region for the terror victims.

    Yildirim said an investment of 2.5 billion Turkish liras (around $667 million) was made in more than 90 district municipalities, where trustees were appointed by the government.

    He also highlighted the investment made in Nigde and announced new projects including a high-speed train and an airport in Bor district.

    Southeastern Turkey has seen numerous terror attacks by the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and U.S.


    – Attacks ‘will be answered’

    In its over three-decade terror campaign against Turkey, more than 40,000 people have been killed.

    The terrorist organization resumed its armed campaign in July 2015. Since then, it has killed more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including women and children.

    Yildirim once again reiterated Turkey’s “determined fight” against terrorism and said any attacks on southern borders would get equal treatment in return.

    “Fighting terrorism is not only about fighting terrorists and taking security measures. We are also trying to meet the reasonable requests of our citizens on an equitable basis,” the premier said.

    In an later address at the provincial congress meeting of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the central Aksaray province, he said “terror groups” in Syria’s northern territories along Turkey’s border “have been harassing our country”, addingthat the attacks “will be answered”.

    On Saturday, Turkish artillery units based in Turkey’s southern Hatay province and Syria’s Idlib province pounded PKK/PYD terror group positions — a Syrian offshoot of the PKK — in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province.

    The forces fired at least 36 times during artillery bombardment from Reyhanli and Kirikhan districts of Turkey’s southern province Hatay and a Turkish Armed Forces observation point in Idlib.


    – Turkey to confront terror inside and outside country

    The prime minister said that Turkey “is a state of law and has the ability to confront all forms of terrorism” inside and outside of the country.

    “All these intentional initiatives will not be an obstacle to Turkey’s pace” toward its development goals, he said.

    Yildirim also addressed the U.S. court conviction of a Turkish banker in New York.

    Last week, a New York jury found Hakan Atilla, a former deputy CEO of Turkey’s public lender Halkbank, guilty on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud — including alleged Iran sanctions violations — but acquitted him of a money laundering charge.

    Turkey has criticized the conviction as a political conspiracy lacking any real evidence and pushed by members and sympathizers of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup.

    The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

    Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, as well as having a large network of influence and intimidation abroad.

    Yildirim claimed that there was no legal basis in the case, adding: “The U.S. judges are almost in the hands of the FETO members. [The judges] act like they want.”

    Richard Berman, the judge in the Hakan Atilla case, was backed by FETO, Turkey deputy prime Minister Bekir Bozdag claimed last week.