Turkish defense minister and his Russian counterpart spoke over the phone about regional security, according to a Turkish ministerial source on Thursday.
Turkey’s Hulusi Akar and Russia's Sergey Shoygu discussed regional security and the latest developments in Syria on a phone call, the source told Anadolu Agency on condition on anonymity due to the restrictions on speaking to the media.
The ministers also exchanged views on bilateral cooperation, the source added.
UN chief 'deeply concerned' by possible Idlib offensive
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voiced deep concern Wednesday for the "growing risk" of a full-scale Syrian regime offensive in northwest province of Idlib."The Secretary-General urgently appeals to the Government of Syria and all parties to exercise restraint and to prioritize the protection of civilians," Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.Guterres maintained "any use of chemical weapons is totally unacceptable."He called on Turkey, Russia and Iran to "find a peaceful solution to the situation in Idlib, the last remaining de-escalation zone."Ankara, Moscow mull 'practical actions' in IdlibThe countries are known as the "Astana guarantors" due to their role in peace talks the Kazakh capital to at end Syria's over seven-year conflict.Located near the Turkish border, Idlib in May was designated a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly forbidden as part of the ongoing Astana process.Guterres called "on all parties to take all necessary measures to safeguard civilian lives, allow freedom of movement, and protect civilian infrastructure, including medical and educational facilities, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law."Russia's Lavrov says contacts with US on Syria's Idlib ongoingAmid the UN chief's urgent plea, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday the Russian and Turkish militaries are discussing "practical actions" against terrorists in Syria's Idlib."The political understanding fully exists between Moscow and Ankara; it is urgent to separate normal armed opposition from the bandits of al-Nusra Front and at the same time to prepare an operation against these terrorists, doing everything to minimize the risks to the civilian population," Lavrov said while referring to Idlib as "the last major hotbed of terrorists"."How to translate this political agreement into the language of practical actions -- it has been discussed by the militaries of Russia and Turkey, who handle the situation on the ground," he said.US warns Syria, Russia on possible Idlib offensiveLavrov said he expects the West to not obstruct the planned military operation against al-Nusra Front, which has been renamed to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, in Idlib.Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.UN officials estimate hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the conflict.
‘US to lose region if it loses Turkey,’ says expert
The U.S. is trying to damage Turkey's prestige, said a Turkish expert on Wednesday.“The U.S. is acting on a policy to sideline Turkey and damage Turkey’s prestige,” said Mesut Hakki Casin, department head at Istanbul Istinye University's department of international relations.Relations between Ankara and Washington have been tense in recent months over the detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey over terror-related charges.According to Casin, the Trump administration is trying to capitalize on the Brunson issue domestically for the upcoming midterm Congress elections to be held in November.US aiding Saudi war crimes in Yemen: NY Times“[U.S. President Donald] Trump was aiming to conduct election propaganda by welcoming the pastor from the airplane before the midterm House and Senate elections,” Casin said. Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system and the U.S. threat to withhold F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from Ankara have also strained ties between the two NATO allies.Casin said Ankara would find alternate suppliers and resort to judicial proceedings against Washington if the U.S. failed to deliver the jointly produced fighter jets."Turkey, along with its $40 billion defense budget and control over NATO’s southern flank as well as three continents, will have been lost to the U.S.," said Casin, adding that the U.S. would be unable to remain in the region without Turkish support.Turkey to prioritize EU reforms, expects to see results: FMAnother danger to relations between the two countries is the U.S.'s provision of large amounts of military equipment to terrorist groups in Syria, such as the YPG/PKK, which threaten Turkish interests and security, Casin said.“Images showing the U.S. deployment of advanced air defense systems for PYD/PKK terrorists in Syria constitute a flagrant violation of the 5th and 6th articles of [the] NATO [Treaty]. These [systems] will block Turkey in its fight against terrorist elements in the region,” said Casin.In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including many women and children.Turkey will shape the region’s future: ErdoğanExploration and extraction of energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean is also an issue of contention for Turkey and its neighbors.According to Casin, the U.S. is conducting maneuvers through its military bases in the region in order to block Turkish exploration of hydrocarbons in the area, ultimately aiming to “eliminate" Turkey’s exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean.Casin explained that failure by the U.S. to improve relations would lead it to “lose Turkey and cause Turkey to leave NATO”.
Erdoğan hosts Iranian FM in Ankara
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday met Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in the capital Ankara, according to the Presidency's official website.The two leaders met for nearly an hour of talks at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party headquarters.Also present at the meeting was Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Çavuşoğlu said bilateral issues and Syria would be discussed in the meeting.Later, he said in a tweet: "We discussed topics on our bilateral and regional agenda, including developments in #Syria with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif of #Iran".
French FM urges for a political solution in Syria
France aligns itself with the United States in the bid to find a political solution in Syria, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday."We have a common stance with the United States that there must be some reassuring measures to restore peace in Syria and to withdraw foreign forces, in order to introduce constitutional reforms allowing all Syrians, including asylum-seekers, to participate," Le Drian said in a speech as part of the 26th Ambassadors' Conference, which opened in Paris on Monday."I hope that this dialogue remains the basis for a broader platform, including with Russia and Turkey," he added."As for our relations with Russia, some of our partners view that country as an enemy, and they have reasons for this, but France is not seeking to isolate or weaken Russia. In return, we expect respect and cooperation," he said.Ankara, Moscow mull 'practical actions' in IdlibFrance is "not ready to pay" for European countries that do not respect the "fundamental principles" of the EU, Le Drian warned ahead of European elections to be held next May."We are not prepared to pay for this Europe, it must be made clear," Le Drian said, referring to Poland and Hungary."Each member state is free to elect the leaders it wants, but our vision of the EU as the primary circle of alliances and values is not compatible with governments that do not respect its fundamental principles and do not feel bound by community solidarity," he said.YPG/PKK terrorists release Daesh prisoners in exchange for money"Basically, they have a utilitarian approach of the Union in which they would choose only what interests them and in the first place the redistribution of money."As for the issue of accepting migrants, he said he hoped that a common position would be outlined with Germany before the Salzburg summit planned in September."We want to be able to reach a Franco-German position before the Salzburg summit on Sept. 20 so as not to leave this subject to the populists, the illusionist merchants and because we know that the Franco-German relationship is the driving force behind the European recovery," Le Drian concluded.Israel threatens Iran attacks over Syria dealRussia's Lavrov says contacts with US on Syria's Idlib ongoing