Erdoğan, Putin agree to meet soon after deadly Idlib attack
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged a phone call on February 28 and agreed to meet in-person very soon and to discuss new measures to de-escalate tension in the Idlib province of Syria as the Syrian regime killed 33 Turkish troops in an attack.
“The two leaders will meet in-person as soon as possible,” Fahrettin Altun, presidential communication directorate told the media on February 28. Officials will try to work on a date for a rendez-vous between the two leaders.
The Kremlin said, in a statement after the phone call, the two presidents have agreed on the need for new measures to be put in place to ease tensions and normalize the situation in northwest Syria.
It also stressed that Putin and Erdoğan agreed to organize a top-level meeting to address the situation in Syria’s Idlib province that the presidents said was a matter of “serious concern”.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed the Russian media that the talks between the two leaders were detailed. “The talks were detailed. They discussed the need to do everything possible to implement the original agreements on the de-escalation zone [in Idlib],” he said.
Dissociating terrorists from the moderate groups, demilitarizing the de-escalation zone, securing the M4 and the M5 highways and cessation of attacks by the terrorists against the Russian and Syrian military facilities are issues to be discussed with the Turkish officials, Lavrov cited.
Expressing his condolences to Turkey for the loss of its soldiers, Lavrov said “The Syrian army has the right to stop the terrorists in Idlib. Russia cannot prevent the Syrian army from doin so. We are in constant dialogue with Turkey.” The Russian foreign minister repeated Moscow’s expectation that Turkey should start to fully implement the Sochi Agreement.
“No concessions will be given to the terrorists in Syria,” he added.
Delegations met in Ankara
Delegations from Turkey and Russia have resumed their talks in the third consecutive day in the Turkish capital after Erdoğan-Putin phone call. A Russian delegation led by deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershenin came in Ankara on February 25 for talks with the Turkish delegation under the leadership of deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal on a lasting ceasefire in Idlib under the Sochi Agreement Turkey and Russia brokered in September 2018.
Turkey has long been pressing Russia to use its influence on the Syrian regime for the cessation of its attacks against its troops and the civilians in Idlib. No positive results have been yielded despite many talks between Vershenin and Önal since mid-January when the massive Syrian offensive started.