President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo shake hands after addressing the media at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Friday, July 31. (Photo: Reuters)
Erdoğan was hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in an official ceremony in Jakarta on Friday, after which the leaders attended a joint press conference. In his speech, Erdoğan first mentioned Turkey’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), condemning the terrorist organization’s actions as bearing no relation to Turkey’s values of religion, morality, conscience and culture.
He went on to say that the crisis in Syria concerns not only its neighboring countries but also the international community because the terrorism in the region has attracted support from a large number of countries, including Indonesia. “The fact that the foreign fighters from Indonesia are going to join Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL] shows that [terrorism] is not only a problem in Syria. Up until now, some 16,000 foreign fighters have been prevented from entering our country because our borders have been closed to them. A total of 1,600 of them have been deported and 1,300 have been detained on the border and deported,” Erdoğan said.
The suicide bombing in the Turkish border town of Suruç last Monday is believed to have been carried out by ISIL. The Suruç bombing and the killing of a soldier on duty on the border in Kilis province prompted the Turkish military to launch an operation against ISIL targets on the other side of the Syrian border, while Turkish police have launched operations against suspected ISIL members across the country. The attacks on ISIL have come as a surprise to many because Turkey has long been criticized for turning a blind eye to the thousands of foreign fighters passing through Turkey to join ISIL and has even been accused of aiding the terrorist group.
Erdoğan also stated Turkey’s willingness to further relations with Indonesia by noting that the Asia-Pacific region has become more important in the global economy, adding that Turkey is ready to join ASEAN.
ASEAN was founded in 1967 and currently comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.