Turkish President Erdoğan slams US-Russia deal on Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed an apparent consensus between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on Syria, in which the two leaders said “no military solution is possible” in war-torn country. Erdoğan said that anyone who does not believe in a military solution in Syria “should pull their troops out.”
“I’m having difficulty understanding these comments. If a military solution is out of the question, then those who say this should pull their troops out,” Erdoğan told reporters on Nov. 13 before departing for the Black Sea resort city of Sochi for a meeting with Putin.
“If a military method is not a solution, one should apply to the political method and find ways to go to elections as soon as possible. Has such a method been applied in the last seven or eight years? We will talk with Putin as well about this. We are the ones who best know this region. We are the one who best know what has happened for the past 15 years,” he said.
“The number of people killed by the Syrian central government’s military has now reached one million,” Erdoğan said, making an unusual reference to the Syrian regime, which Ankara has long argued is illegitimate.
After more than four hours of talks with Putin in Sochi, Erdoğan said the two leaders had agreed to focus on a political solution to the conflict.
"We agreed that the grounds to focus on a political solution [in Syria] have been formed," he said.
Putin said Russia would continue to work on Syria with Turkey and their efforts were yielding results: "The level of violence has definitely been reduced, favorable conditions are being created for the progression of an inter-Syrian dialogue."
Earlier in the day, Erdoğan said Ankara never wanted the U.S. to intervene in Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and urged Washington to find settlement through democratic means.
“But they didn’t listen. The Obama [administration] also said they wouldn’t stay in Iraq, but did they withdraw? They didn’t. The world is not stupid. They talk in one way and act the other way,” Erdoğan said.
He also complained that the U.S. has established five military bases in the north of Syria and is about to establish another base in Raqqa, in addition to eight others in the region. Russia, meanwhile, has five military bases in Syria, he noted.
“What are these if not military methods?” Erdoğan said.
At the weekend, in a joint statement on Syria, Putin and Trump agreed to “continue joint efforts” on fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) until it is defeated.
They also confirmed their commitment to Syria’s “sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity” and called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to take an active part in the Geneva political process.
Moscow and Washington agree there is no military solution to the conflict, according to the text of the joint statement published on the Kremlin’s website.
Erdoğan said he would discuss the issue with Putin, as well as a political solution in Syria, joint steps with Russia in Syria’s Afrin region, and details of a proposed S-400 air defense missile system deal.
“We have signed an agreement. We will discuss some technical issues,” Erdoğan said regarding Turkey’s purchase of the Russian defense system, which critics say could jeopardize Ankara’s NATO membership.
“Idlib is the main issue of talks at the moment. Unfortunately, civilians in Idlib are under siege. We are working together with Russia on Idlib. We are committed to this,” he said.
Erdoğan added that Turkey “cannot ignore harassment fire across the border from Afrin,” where the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) elements are located.
“We are determined to take the necessary steps,” he said.