Russia’s direct talk offer ‘not delivered’ to Turkey

Russia’s direct talk offer ‘not delivered’ to Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Russia’s direct talk offer ‘not delivered’ to Turkey

A Syrian man shouts as an injured civilian, lying in the back of a vehicle, arrives at a hospital in Aleppo. AFP photo

Ankara is questioning the seriousness of a suggestion to establish a mechanism for direct security talks between Syria and Turkey, because Moscow has not officially presented the proposal to the Turkish government yet.

“If they were serious, the proposal should first have been officially presented to Turkey. The suggestion seems to be designed to mold public opinion,” a Turkish diplomat told Hürriyet Daily News. Syria could have contacted Ankara when necessary, before a Turkish jet was shot down in Mediterranean Sea, the diplomat said, also citing the lack of any outcome after Syria announced that Damascus would launch an internal investigation into the Akçakale shelling.

Turkey has not suspended diplomatic ties with Syria, and Damascus could have contacted Ankara through the Turkish consulate in Aleppo and the Syrian consulate in Istanbul if necessary, the diplomat said.

Dismissing Syrian calls for the establishment of dialogue between Ankara and Damascus, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said yesterday the Turkish government was engaged in constant dialogue with the Syrian administration until it began attacking own people last year. “A dialogue should be a meaningful one,” Davutoğlu said, adding that the al-Assad regime should establish a dialogue with its own people before seeking a conversation with Ankara.

Joint committee

In a bid to lower the tension, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested on Oct. 10 that the best way to resolve the conflict would be through direct contact between Syrian and Turkish authorities. Syria welcomed the proposal, and Damascus is ready to start direct dialogue with Turkey, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Oct. 13.

Syrian authorities have discussed with the Russian ambassador in Damascus “the possibility of setting up a joint Syrian-Turkish committee to undertake finding a mechanism to control the security situation on both sides of the border within the framework of respecting the national sovereignty of the two countries,” Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on Oct. 13., according to SANA.

There seems to be no end in sight to the ongoing tension between Ankara and Damascus, with Syria having banned Turkish flights from Syrian airspace after midnight on Oct. 13 in a retaliatory move, after Turkey confiscated a cargo of what Russia said was radar equipment from a civilian airplane en route from Moscow to Damascus. k HDN