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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (C-L) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C-R) enter a hall to start their meeting with Russian and Turkish entrepreneurs in Konstantinovsky Palace outside Saint Petersburg on August 9, 2016

    Turkey's Ruling Party Says Syrian Conflict Poses Risks to Both Ankara and Moscow

    © AFP 2018 / ALEXANDER NEMENOV
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    Speaking to Sputnik, Talip Kucukcan, a senior politician within Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and member of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, emphasized that Turkey's position on the Syrian crisis is that its continuation poses significant risks for both Turkey and Russia.

    Speaking to Sputnik Turkey in the aftermath of the meeting between the Russian and Turkish presidents in St. Petersburg last week, Kucukcan provided the news agency with an extensive commentary on the main directions in the process of the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations. 

    According to the lawmaker, Russian-Turkish cooperation must be directed toward three main areas – energy, the economy, and the crisis in Syria. The official said that he was confident in significant opportunities for convergence on the Syrian question, since the continuation of the conflict in the country is a source of significant damage to both parties' interests.

    Commenting on normalization more broadly, Kucukcan suggested that the Turkish president's letter of apology for the Turkish Air Force's destruction of a Russian Su-24 jet over Syria last November played a very significant role, culminating in the meeting of the two leaders in St. Petersburg on August 9.

    The politician also noted that Russia's principled position during the Turkish coup attempt last month was another element driving rapprochement."During the attempted military coup, Turkey's traditional allies – the West and NATO, did not provide us with sufficient support. In this regard the greatest assistance and psychological support was provided from Mr. Putin. Turkey's leadership, in turn, highly appreciated this gesture by the Russian side."

    "I think it's necessary to stress the importance of the support provided to Turkey by Russia during the coup attempt on the further rapprochement between our two countries. At first glance it may seem only symbolic, but sometimes symbolic gestures and demonstrations of goodwill can play a key role in promoting bilateral relations."

    In general, Kucukcan that Turkey's rapprochement in relations with Russia does not mean that it will be leaving the NATO alliance, or breaking its ties with Europe. At the same time, he added that "if the EU continues to use negative, aggressive rhetoric in its statements about Turkey, Turkey can find alternatives for cooperation for itself both in regional politics, and within the global balance of power. A rational and well thought-out policy in today's world requires such an approach."

    On the Syrian question specifically, the politician admitted that at present, this issue is now the most problematic point in bilateral relations between Moscow and Ankara. "What will be the Syrian policy of the two countries? Here we have two things bringing us together which can allow Turkey and Russia to reach an agreement. First, this is the territorial integrity of Syria, the desire to prevent the dismemberment of the country. The second point on which Turkey and Russia are in agreement is the fight against terrorism."

    "Both countries seek to prevent terrorists operating in the region from attempting to fill the geopolitical vacuum in the country, because this upsets the balance of forces in the region, and stability…Therefore, looking at the situation from these two positions, it becomes clear that Turkey and Russia have common ground for reaching agreement on the Syrian issue."

    Kucukcan suggested that he has every confidence that follow-up meetings, contacts and negotiations between the two sides will lead to the strengthening of this common ground, "and discussions of concrete and practical steps in this direction."

    At the same time, he noted that "the Syrian crisis is not a problem that can be resolved only by the joint efforts of Russia and Turkey." The Syrian conflict is one that connects the interests and actions of numerous regional and global powers — "of Europe, the United States, Iran and the Gulf countries." Accordingly, the official noted, "the process of the Syrian settlement cannot be completed in a short time, because the problem that requires solving is very complex and multifaceted."

    Nevertheless, Kucukcan emphasized the both Moscow and Ankara have to work to resolve the conflict as quickly as possible, since the proliferation of the crisis carries "very serious risks" for both countries. "Why is this the case? For Turkey, first and foremost, this is the risk associated with a new wave of refugees. From the Russian point of view, the risk is being drawn into a long and protracted war, without prospects for exit, and with enormous costs."

    Ultimately, the politician said that he is confident that Russia wants a resolution to the Syrian crisis as soon as possible, "to be able to direct the energy that it spends in Syria elsewhere. Therefore, it seems to me that Turkey and Russia will reach agreement on Syria in the end, since the continuation of this conflict is detrimental to both countries. The path out of the crisis is sure to be found, even if the process of the search is not easy."

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    Tags:
    challenges, rapprochement, agreement, negotiations, Justice and Development Party (AKP), Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syria, Russia, Turkey
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