Türkiye vows full regional normalization achievable

Türkiye vows full regional normalization achievable

Türkiye vows full regional normalization achievable

Türkiye believes that full normalization based on good neighborly relations can be achieved in the region as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he did not rule out a meeting with Syrian leader Bashar Assad after an in-person encounter with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on the sidelines of the European Political Community summit.

Erdoğan attended the EPC’s first summit in Prague on Oct. 6 from where he conveyed messages to the regional leaders, including Armenia and Syria with which Türkiye’s ties were once very strained.

Erdoğan held a bilateral meeting with Pashinyan after a brief trilateral dialogue that also included Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Erdoğan issued important messages at a press conference after the summit on late Oct. 6, particularly on Syria.

“Meeting with Assad is out of the question for now. But when the time comes, we can also meet with the president of Syria… Currently, low-level meetings are being held,” Erdoğan replied to a question on whether he would meet the Syrian leader for peace.

Türkiye has been taking steps to accelerate the return of Syrian refugees as the Turkish government constructs briquette houses in the north of the neighboring country, he, said noting that some 500,000 Syrians have returned to their homeland.

On the other hand, Ankara wants to get rid of the terrorist groups in Syria, he added. Erdoğan emphasized that the war between Russia and Ukraine had impacts on Syria as well.

“Of course, the Russia-Ukraine War delayed the steps to be taken in the region. Because Russia also has an active role in these events in Syria, Iran has an active role, and on the other hand, coalition forces have an active role,” he said.

Erdoğan reiterated Türkiye’s criticism of the United States for its support to the YPG in Syria.

Asked about his earlier warning towards Athens in which he said that “we can come suddenly one night,” meaning that Türkiye could attack Greece, Erdoğan said, “This is not only valid for Greece. This is our answer to any country that disturbs us or attacks us: We can come suddenly one night. This is how they should know it; this is how they should understand it.”

Turkish, Armenian top diplomats to meet

Meanwhile, Erdoğan, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev met informally on the sidelines of the European summit in Prague, marking the first top-level talks between Türkiye and Armenia since they launched a bid to mend ties.

“We had a sincere meeting with Pashinyan. I sincerely believe that we can achieve our goal of full normalization in our region on the basis of good neighborly relations,” the president said.

“Some demands were made in this meeting. We conveyed these demands to our special representatives and ministers. After the negotiations take place, we will take the necessary steps,” Erdoğan added.

He underscored that Türkiye’s primary expectation from the European Political Community was that it strengthened Türkiye-EU relations and contributed to Türkiye’s membership process.

“Our country has vital importance in terms of addressing fundamental issues such as security, defense, terrorism, migration, energy supply security, healthcare and supply chains. Türkiye is irreplaceable when it comes to overcoming the challenges the European Union is faced with and in defining the international role of the Union,” he said.

Realities should be acknowledged on Cyprus

Erdoğan said he had seen that this reality has started to be acknowledged by the EU as well.

Speaking to journalists on board his flight from Prague to Istanbul, Erdoğan elaborated on possible military buildup, including a military base, in Turkish Cyprus in the future, following the U.S. establishment of new military bases in Greece.

Erdoğan recalled that Türkiye deployed drones to the north of the island. “Right now, our [unmanned aerial vehicles] UAVs and SİHAs [armed drones] are there. Similar things may come up. It is right for this to happen,” he said.

Türkiye must maintain the security of Turkish Cyprus, he emphasized. Whether Ankara decides to establish a military base in Turkish Cyprus or not, Turkish warplanes have the capacity to reach the island in a short time.