Syria top of the agenda for Erdoğan with Putin
AFP photoRussian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will focus on the Syrian crisis and the fight against terrorism in Syria at a meeting on May 3 in Sochi, where the two leaders will seek to eliminate mutual embargos in order to fully normalize bilateral ties.
Joint efforts aiming to consolidate the cease-fire in Syria will be on the agenda of the talks, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. The two leaders will also aim to accelerate efforts to normalize bilateral ties between Turkey and Russia, said the sources.
In March, officials from Turkey and Russia held a meeting in Ankara in order to discuss the upcoming phases of the Astana process, particularly deploying truce observers to the field as mentioned in a Dec. 30, 2016, truce deal. The issue is expected to be on the agenda of the talks.
Russia has suggested that Turkey deploy Turkish cease-fire monitoring forces in Syria after Moscow established the same mission in the northern Afrin region, sources told the Daily News. Russia raised the proposal of a truce monitoring mission by Turkish security officials in the field after Moscow deployed troops near Menagh airport in the Afrin region in March, in collaboration with the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
A cease-fire deal between Turkey and Russia that took effect on Dec. 30, 2016, envisages the establishment of checkpoints in Syria in order to monitor the truce and possible violations. In order to record violations of the cease-fire, “the guarantors will establish checkpoints in residential areas in the vicinity of the actual line of contact among the parties in order to guarantee compliance with the cease-fire by the parties,” read an agreement dated on Dec. 29.
New era to start in Syria, Iraq
Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate his return to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdoğan said he would discuss possible operations in Syria’s Manbij and Raqqa with Putin during the official visit to Russia and with U.S. President Donald Trump later this month.
“The next step will be Manbij and Raqqa,” he said May 2 reiterating Turkey’s long-term rhetoric which Ankara aims to push Syrian Kurdish fighters to the east of the Euphrates River and impede possible cooperation between Washington and the YPG in a massive operation into Raqqa, the de facto ISIL capital.
The president said he hoped his upcoming discussions with Putin and Trump would start a new era in Syria and Iraq. Turkey will not allow Kurdish groups to achieve their goals in northern Syria, he added.
Meanwhile, the guarantor countries of the Syrian cease-fire regime will gather in Astana on May 3, with experts from Russia, Iran and Turkey. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the consolidation of the cease-fire regime, ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid and ensuring favorable conditions for the political process will be on the agenda of the talks.
Full normalization of ties
Another important agenda item of the meeting will be the removal of the embargoes that Moscow has put into practice after Turkey shot down a Russian plane in 2014. Mutual steps were taken in the process of normalization, but Russia has not removed obstacles in front of many agricultural products exported from Turkey. Ankara, in response, removed Russia from the list of countries that could export wheat, corn and sunflower oil to Turkey free of charge.
Russia will not lift restrictions on certain products as long as Turkish duties on Russian grain remain in effect, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said April 21.
While the agricultural trade crisis between Ankara and Moscow continues, Russian Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov said it was possible to stop charter flights to Turkey.