President Bashar al-Assad took a strong stance regarding the Turkish-Syrian rapprochement during his recent visit to Moscow. He emphasized that the rapprochement could not occur until Turkey was fully prepared to withdraw from Syrian territory. This stance led to the postponement of the quadripartite meeting that was scheduled to take place on March 15th and 16th in Moscow between the deputy foreign ministers of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Russia.
According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Russia had requested to reschedule the meetings between the deputy foreign ministers of Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Russia. He speculated that Russia may have made a joint decision with the Syrian side, and they agreed to arrange a future meeting. However, he also announced that the meeting could be held soon.
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In addition to Mevlut Cavusoglu’s statement, several leaks have confirmed that Moscow did not pressure Damascus to make any concessions in order to complete the rapprochement process with Ankara. There have also been reports of Iranian and Russian ideas and plans aimed at advancing the rapprochement process.
Lebanese newspaper “Al-Akhbar” has reported that Syrian opposition sources quoted Turkish officials as confirming their continued efforts to hold the postponed meeting before the presidential elections scheduled for May, despite the Syrian government’s repeated emphasis on separating the internal Turkish electoral issue from the issue of Syrian-Turkish relations.
According to sources cited by Al-Akhbar, Syrian opposition sources have stated that the recent strongly-worded statements made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Turkey’s actions and its attempt to use the Syrian issue in the upcoming elections have not affected the ongoing efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
The sources also confirmed that Turkish officials are currently exploring various options regarding the fate of the Turkish military presence in Syria. They are considering the possibility of setting a schedule to end the presence, which would be linked to field, humanitarian, and political developments. The officials are preparing to present their proposal to the Russian and Iranian mediators involved in the process.
Former Turkish ambassador to Syria, Omar Ahun, has commented on President Assad’s recent statements regarding rapprochement with Damascus. In an article published in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Ahun emphasized that the developments in Moscow are not good for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He added that Erdogan wants to achieve something concrete with President Assad before the crucial elections on May 14th. Erdogan needs to show that despite all that has happened, he is still capable of putting things right and that he is the one who can solve the problem.
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.