Turkey involved in intense diplomatic traffic after Sochi summit
Turkey has been involved in intense diplomatic traffic following a Nov. 22 summit in Sochi, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian and Iranian counterparts agreed to pursue a political solution to the war in Syria.
Erdoğan talked on the phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Nov. 25 to discuss several issues, including the recent trilateral meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.
In the phone call, Erdoğan gave information about the summit to his French counterpart, while stressing that holding free and fair elections under U.N. supervision carries significance.
Erdoğan said “no other terrorist groups should be allowed” in areas of Syria cleared of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in a reference to Kurdish militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
According to presidential sources, the two leaders also agreed to strengthen bilateral relations in the areas of economy, energy and defense industry.
Later on the same day, Erdoğan spoke on the phone with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz about the Sochi meeting and bilateral relations between Ankara and Riyadh.
The president informed the Saudi monarch about the Sochi summit and the Astana Process, which started in May when Iran, Russia and Turkey agreed on declaring de-conflict zones in Syria in regions where clashes between regime and opposition groups are intense.
A day earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump called Erdoğan to discuss the situation in Syria.
“President Erdoğan shared information with U.S. President Trump about the Sochi summit and the two leaders also discussed the fight against terror,” a statement from the Turkish Presidency read, adding that Erdoğan and Trump agreed on joint fight against “all terrorist organizations,” including ISIL, the PKK and the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have been behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
“The two leaders highlighted the importance of strengthening Turkey-U.S. relations and agreed on a joint fight against all terrorist organizations, including DEASH, PKK, FETÖ and similar groups,” it said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.
Turkey has long demanded that the U.S. extradite the Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, and the issue has been a subject of tension between the two countries ever since the coup attempt.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Trump promised not to send weapons to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) any more.
Turkey has repeatedly protested the U.S. for providing around 4,000 truckloads of weapons to the YPG in the fight against ISIL.
The White House also issued a statement on the conversation, which did not directly refer to arms sent to YPG militants.
“Trump reaffirmed the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Turkey, particularly in combating terrorism in all its forms and fostering regional stability,” the statement said.
“Consistent with our previous policy, President Trump also informed President Erdoğan of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete and we are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that [ISIL] cannot return,” the release said, using another name for ISIL.
According to White House, the leaders also touched on the importance of the Geneva process on Syria and the necessity to implement U.N. Resolution 2254.
“On Syria, the two leaders discussed the importance of implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and supporting the United Nations-led Geneva Process to peacefully resolve the civil war in that country,” the release said.
“President Trump and President Erdoğan underscored the need to end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens,” it added.
Moreover, Erdoğan and Trump “also discussed the purchase of military equipment from the United States,” according to the White House.
On Nov. 26, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Ankara “expects the U.S. to stop providing weapons” to the YPG.
“From the very beginning, we have said that it is wrong for the U.S. to partner with PKK’s cousin YPG in the fight against ISIL,” Yıldırım told reporters at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Aiport before leaving for Britain to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“Our friend and ally [the U.S.] has told us every time that it was not a favored option, but rather an obligation. Since ISIL is now eliminated then this obligation has disappeared,” he added.
Urging Washington to “immediately” end its partnership with the YPG and return to its “real allies,” Yıldırım said the outcome of the Sochi meeting would be on the agenda in his talks with May.
A day earlier, Yıldırım spoke on the phone with his Iraqi counterpart about bilateral and regional issues.
Yıldırım and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi discussed the fight against terrorism and stressed the “close cooperation” between the two states.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also on the Sochi summit.
“Sochi summit was a right step at the right time,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Nov. 25.
He added that a national congress to hold face-to-face talks between government and opposition could be “a step towards stability and security of Syria.”
Iran has signed large economic contracts with Syria, reaping what appear to be lucrative rewards for helping al-Assad in his fight against rebel groups and ISIL militants.
“Tehran is ready to take an active role in the reconstruction of Syria,” Rouhani reportedly stated.