Sides agree to Syrian peace push
Putin and Erdogan in turnaround to reach new de-escalation deal
ANKARA — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the de-facto conditions needed to end Syria’s civil war have been achieved.
Putin’s comments, which followed talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, come as Russia, Turkey and Iran cooperate on maintaining de-escalation zones in Syria.
Erdogan said they focused on the specifics of securing a de-escalation zone in Syria’s northern province of Idlib on the border with Turkey, emphasizing the shared political will to contribute to the Syrian political settlement.
Putin, for his part, hailed “our friend, President Erdogan” for helping make the de-escalation deal possible, adding that it would allow fighting to halt and create conditions for the return of refugees to their homes.
“I consider these agreements our common, extremely important success,” Putin said. “The necessary conditions have been created for putting an end to the fratricidal war in Syria, completely destroying terrorists and allowing Syrians to return to peaceful life.”
Putin’s visit came as Turkey and Russia are working to deepen ties in a turnaround for the two nations, which have backed opposing sides in Syria and nearly came to blows over Turkey’s downing of a Russian plane in 2015.
Putin and Erdogan also talked about the Iraqi Kurdish referendum held on Monday, with the Turkish president denouncing it as a “big mistake” that eroded stability in the region.
Erdogan underlined the need to prevent “even more serious mistakes”, adding that “it’s important that the international community sides with Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity”.
Turkey, which is battling a more than three-decades-old Kurdish insurgency, opposed the plebiscite, in which Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence. Turkey has said it is considering economic sanctions against the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq and has not ruled out military action.
Russia has maintained a neutral tone regarding the Kurdish referendum, but it underlined its support for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while emphasizing the need to avoid destabilization of the region.