Turkey, Russia of the same opinion on the protection of integrity of Iraq, Syria

Turkey, Russia of the same opinion on the protection of integrity of Iraq, Syria

Turkey, Russia of the same opinion on the protection of integrity of Iraq, Syria

Turkey and Russia share similar views on the protection of the territorial integrities of both Syria and Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, urging the international community to act before the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) commits graver mistakes.

Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin came together in Ankara late on Sept. 28 to discuss regional developments and bilateral relations in their fifth in-person meeting this year.

“We have discussed the developments in our region, including Iraq and Syria. We are of the same opinion on the need to protect the territorial integrities of both Iraq and Syria,” Erdoğan told reporters after a three-hour meeting with Putin.

Reiterating Turkey’s opposition to the KRG’s bid to seek independence in the Sept. 25 controversial referendum, Erdoğan called on the international community “to take steps to avoid graver mistakes to be staged by the KRG in the post-referendum period.”

Putin, for his part, repeated a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the referendum, stressing that it reflected Moscow’s position in principle about the KRG’s referendum, without give further detail.

The two leaders also discussed their joint efforts to establish de-escalation zones inside Syria, including the rebel-held Idlib. Citing difficulties Turkey, Russia and Iran were facing as guarantor powers as well as Syria in implementing an agreement on setting up de-escalation zones in the war-torn country, Putin praised Erdoğan’s role in overcoming the challenges and continuing on the right track.

“We have agreed to jointly work on the implementation of the de-escalation zones,” Putin stressed, informing that the three countries’ diplomats, intelligence and military officials will continue to work to this end.

Erdoğan also stressed on the need to intensify works on implementing the agreement reached in the Kazakh capital Astana on Sept. 15 but also recalled the need to put some confidence-building measures in place.

“Turkey and Russia have repeated their joint will for a political resolution to the Syrian problem,” he said.

Both Putin and Erdoğan expressed their satisfaction with the boost of bilateral trade volume in 2017, noting about a 22 percent increase only in eight months this year.

“The number of Russian tourists visiting Turkey increased by 11 times in comparison to last year,” Putin said. “We have removed almost all trade restrictions on Turkish agricultural products. There is a 58 percent increase in the import of Turkish agricultural products,” he said.

The two leaders, however, did not mention Turkey’s plans to procure S-400 anti-ballistic missiles from Russia. Turkey, a NATO ally, is under criticism for attempting to purchase a non-NATO anti-ballistic missile system. Erdoğan said Turkey has already made a deposit payment to Russia.