Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar spoke about the reflection of the talks between Turkey and the regime on the Syrian opposition, noting that Turkey “will not put [the opposition] in a dilemma.”
Briefing reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by the Turkish president, Akar said his country had not taken any measures that would put the Syrian opposition and Syrian National Army factions in a bind.
He called on Syrian opposition parties at home and in Turkey to “act consciously” and not respond to provocations against them.
During the press briefing, the Turkish defence minister said that the talks that took place with the Assad regime’s defence minister — following an 11-year hiatus — were carried out “with good intentions.” He indicated that their goal is to bring peace to the region, as he put it.
Akar said that, through these talks, Turkey seeks to resolve several issues: most notably the “fight against terrorism” and the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkey, by providing them with the conditions necessary for a “safe and voluntary” return.
On the possibility of holding similar meetings, the Turkish minister said that it is possible to hold mutual negotiations with the Syrian side “in a way that contributes to achieving stability and peace in the region.”
Two weeks ago, Russia hosted the first meeting of its kind in 11 years between Turkey and the Assad regime at the level of defence ministers and intelligence chiefs in Moscow.
The meeting is seen as the second of a series of milestones on a roadmap announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent weeks to open dialogue with the Syrian regime. The arrangement will occur under Russian auspices.
Assad-Erdogan meeting controversy
On Tuesday, the Turkish newspaper Aydinlik reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may meet with the Syrian regime president Bashar al-Assad, before the presidential elections in Turkey. The elections are scheduled for June 2023.
The UAE asked to be a fourth party to the Russian-sponsored talks between Turkey and the regime, and offered to hold the meeting between Erdogan and Assad in Abu Dhabi.
However, the Russian agency RIA Novosti quoted a source in the Turkish president’s office as saying that the date of the meeting between Erdogan and Assad has not yet been determined.
On Tuesday, the source told the agency: “There is no progress in organizing the meeting of heads of state. The date of the meeting has not yet been set.”
For its part, the Russian agency TASS reported on Wednesday that work is underway to set a date for a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and regime Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Moscow.
TASS quoted a Russian source as saying: “The meeting is under discussion, but there is no specific date for the meeting yet. We hope that it will be determined in the near future, and I think that the negotiations will take place in Moscow.”
“Currently, there are talks underway to agree on dates that are suitable for everyone,” the Russian source said. “We have proposed the days to our Syrian and Turkish colleagues, and we are waiting for their confirmation.”
The newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the meeting of foreign ministers would take place on Wednesday, January 11. However, to date, the meeting has not been officially announced.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.