Turkish FM to pay official visit to Russia

Turkish FM to pay official visit to Russia

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish FM to pay official visit to Russia

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç, AA Photo.

Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu will pay an official visit to Sochi on Sept. 16-17 following a visit to Azerbaijan, ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç has said.

Speaking at a press conference on Sept. 15, Bilgiç said the visit was part of political consultations between the two countries, but ministers will also discuss regional issues, such as Syria and Ukraine.

The spokesperson said it was important to be in dialogue with Russia and exchange views. 

Asked about Russia’s recent military engagement in Syria, Bilgiç said any support to the government of President Bashar al-Assad would lead to an increase in the number of civilians killed in the neighboring country.

Elaborating on media reports that Turkey was unhappy with Russian military activities in Syria and had recently expressed concern, he said Sinirlioğlu had not recently had any contact with his Russian counterpart, but that they could exchange views during the visit. 

U.S. officials have said Russia has sent ships, armored personnel carriers and naval infantry to Syria in recent weeks in a move which U.S. President Barack Obama said showed al-Assad was worried his grip on power is slipping.

Russia will continue with military supplies to Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies Sept. 13.

“There were military supplies, they are ongoing and they will continue. They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry,” Lavrov said.

Ankara and Moscow disagreed over the latter’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014. A report prepared by a visiting Turkish delegation to the peninsula reported that the rights of Crimean Tatars had been violated. 

Turkey and Russia have been unable to make progress on the planned Turkish Stream project and have frozen talks for now, according to high-level Turkish energy officials.

“We can’t move forward in the negotiations at the moment. Russia made the gas discount talks between Gazprom and Turkey’s gas grid, BOTAŞ, as a prerequisite for the Turkish Stream project. But we saw this as a starting point. As no government could be established after the June election in Turkey, the talks have been frozen for now. The parties have not ended the talks, but frozen them,” said Energy Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sefa Sadık Aytekin.