Turkey eyes Russia to mediate between Ankara and Damascus
Turkey is expecting Russia’s mediation to normalize relations with the Syrian regime.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Ankara is willing to take trilateral steps with Moscow and Damascus governments on Syria.
“I’ve made the proposal to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, he looked positively. Thus, we will start the chain of negotiations," Erdogan told reporters on a flight back from Turkmenistan, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Erdogan said first of all, the three countries’ intelligence services and their defense and foreign ministers could come together respectively.
“Then, let's meet as the leaders,” he said.
Erdogan said the decisive factor over the steps Ankara will take regarding Syria would be the country’s national interests.
Ankara’s relations with Damascus have deteriorated a decade ago following a civil war broke in Syria in 2011 and since then, former good “friends” Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad became fierce “enemies”.
Turkey has supported armed Syrian rebels against Assad, providing them military support from the early stages of the civil war.
While Turkish President Erdogan in the past has repeatedly described Assad as a "terrorist", blaming him of killing his citizens during the civil war, Assad also frequently accused Erdogan of Muslim Brotherhood affiliation.
Erdogan recently showed willingness for reconciliation with the Assad regime.
On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara has been in talks with the Syrian regime through both countries’ intelligence services.
While Turkey was eyeing to mend ties with Syria, the Damascus government has been cautious over high level contacts with Ankara.
Last month, Syrian President Assad said he expects concrete steps from Turkey for rising the level of bilateral meetings with Turkey.
“Syria expects deeds, not mere words from Turkey,” Assad said.
Syria frequently calls on Turkey to withdraw from Syrian territory and stop financing and training Syrian opposition groups against Damascus government.