Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar surprised many by announcing a quadripartite meeting of defense ministers and intelligence chiefs from Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Syria in Moscow on Tuesday, as part of the ongoing efforts to normalize relations between Ankara and Damascus.
Despite the upcoming meeting of foreign ministers from the four countries, scheduled for early May in Moscow, Akar revealed in a statement on Monday that the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Turkey, Russia, the Syrian regime, and Iran would convene on Tuesday in the Russian capital.
Akar highlighted that during the trilateral meeting of defense ministers and intelligence chiefs from Turkey, Russia, and Syria on December 28 held in Moscow, they agreed to continue the meetings, which resulted in an agreement for Iran to join the discussions.
“We have planned to hold a quadripartite meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, with the aim of resolving outstanding issues through dialogue and achieving peace and stability in the region as soon as possible,” said Akar.
After the trilateral meeting of defense ministers and intelligence chiefs last December, the normalization process between Ankara and Damascus slowed down when Syria insisted on the preliminary withdrawal of Turkish forces from northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed Iran’s participation in the talks, which Moscow welcomed.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced that more technical meetings are needed at the defense ministerial level to discuss security issues and other issues related to the normalization process, including combating terrorism, ensuring the safe return of Syrian refugees, discussing the restoration of their properties in their areas of origin, and resuming the political process leading to stability in Syria.
Akar predicted that Tuesday’s meeting in Moscow will result in positive developments, emphasizing that the meetings are taking place under mutual respect between all parties. He stressed that Turkey is committed to doing its best for regional peace and reiterated its determination to pursue terrorists.
Regarding the Syrian refugee crisis, Akar stated that Turkey aims to provide the necessary conditions for a safe and dignified return of Syrians to their homes and does not want to create a new wave of refugees. He added that Turkey works with Syrian brothers both in Turkey and inside Syria and cannot make any decisions that would put them in a difficult situation.
Ankara says that its talks with Syria are based on three main principles: cooperation and coordination in the fight against terrorism, ensuring the dignified return of refugees, and implementing the political process on the Syrian issue. Turkey does not believe that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can currently ensure the security of Turkey’s borders and eliminate the threat of Kurdish units, which it considers an extension of the PKK in Syria.
Ankara commits to withdraw its forces only if Kurdish units retreat to a depth of 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, and it can establish a zone that accommodates Syrian refugees while preventing the emergence of what it calls a “terrorist corridor” on the Turkish-Syrian border.
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.