Astana Process to be revived for Syria: Erdoğan
The trilateral Astana Process mechanism set by Türkiye, Iran and Russia will revive for resolving the decade-old Syrian problem, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, as he came together with Iranian President Ebrahim Reisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran.
The seventh leaders’ level summit of the Astana Process, which was launched in 2017, was scheduled to be held in Tehran. The presidents of the trilateral mechanism could not get convened since September 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Following our High-Level Cooperation Council meeting with Iran, we will hold yet another very important meeting. As the leaders of the Astana Trio, we will evaluate the latest situation in Syria with President Putin and President Reisi,” Erdoğan said at a press conference with Reisi on July 19.
“It will give us an opportunity to reevaluate the Astana Process and revive it,” Erdoğan stressed before the Astana Process meeting was held later in the day. The Astana Process was founded by these three countries to facilitate a political solution to the problem by encouraging the regime and the opposition to sit around the same table. No progress was observed in the ongoing constitutional committee works.
Tehran observed a set of important diplomatic traffic on July 19 following Türkiye-Iran bilateral talks that included Erdoğan’s meetings with Reisi and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Putin was also in town and held separate bilateral talks with Erdoğan and Reisi before the scheduled summit. It was the first in-person meeting between Erdoğan and Putin since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on Feb. 24.
Türkiye, Iran pledge to cooperate on terror fight
Both Erdoğan and Reisi, at the press conference, raised the need to fight against terrorist organizations. “Our fight against terrorism is of vital importance. PEJAK, PKK, PYD, YPG and FETÖ terror organizations are serious trouble for both countries,” he said, recalling that Türkiye managed to insert them in a NATO document at NATO’s Madrid Summit.
“As no matter in which country they are, they are seriously trouble-makers and disturbing the peace in that country. Therefore, we have to fight against them in solidarity,” he said.
Erdoğan’s statements came at a moment when there are reports that Türkiye is aiming to launch a new military operation against the presence of the YPG in Tal Rifaat and Manbij provinces of Syria despite Iran and Russia’s opposition. Khamenei reportedly warned that a military operation by Türkiye into Syria would be detrimental.
Reisi, however, at the press conference, underlined the need for cooperation against the terror organization for the security of the two countries and especially for border security. “Both countries emphasized the struggle against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. The terrorists may have different names but a struggle should be given if they are constituting a threat against our peoples and borders,” he stated.
Türkiye, Iran vow to increase trade to $30 billion
The two leaders underlined the need for improving the bilateral ties in every field, particularly in economy, trade and investments.
Reisi said they agreed to exert efforts to triple the current trade volume and make it $30 billion. “We have discussed and agreed on the establishment of joint industrial zones,” Reisi said, underlining that increase in the activities of the companies operating in the territories of each other will also help upgrade the bilateral trade.
“Both sides have underlined the extension of the 25-year-long natural gas agreement. The extension of this agreement will also increase the trade,” he added.
For his part, Erdoğan agreed that the natural gas deal would help increase the trade while emphasizing that the two countries should also cooperate in the field of the defense industry.
“As known, Türkiye has made a huge leap in the defense industry. I attach great importance to our solidarity in this field,” Erdoğan stated.