Amid the ongoing stalemate in the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement process, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his openness to a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. However, he emphasized that Damascus’ condition regarding the Turkish withdrawal from Syria is unlikely to be met.
Speaking at a press conference before his visit to Saudi Arabia as part of his Gulf tour, Erdogan stated, “We maintain communication channels with the Syrian side, and the established quadripartite mechanism is operational.” He also mentioned the possibility of a meeting with President Assad.
Simultaneously, Erdogan highlighted his belief that the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria, as demanded by Damascus, is not feasible. He cited the presence of “Kurdish units” near the Turkish border and claimed ongoing threats to Turkey. He argued, “Would these same words be used against other countries? No, they wouldn’t. Therefore, we are seeking a fair approach. Once we find this fair approach, we can address and resolve all related issues.”
Since the beginning of the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement path, Damascus has made its position clear, as articulated by President Bashar al-Assad during his visit to Moscow last March. He stated, “Regarding a meeting with President Erdogan, it is contingent upon Turkey clearly and unambiguously committing to a complete withdrawal from Syrian territory, ceasing support for terrorism, and restoring the situation to pre-war conditions. Only under these circumstances would a meeting between President Erdogan and myself hold any significance. Otherwise, what purpose would it serve if it cannot yield definitive results for the Syrian conflict?”
How will this path end?
Amid the current impasse in the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement process, discussions have taken place among key stakeholders, including Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, regarding a “road map” to advance the path of reconciliation. Alexander Lavrentyev, the Russian President’s Special Envoy to Syria, confirmed this development following the Astana 20 talks.
In an effort to bridge their differences, both sides are reportedly considering proposals to address the contentious issue of Turkish withdrawal from Syria. Leaked information from Yeni Şafak suggests that Ankara has put forward a suggestion during the talks to establish a joint military coordination mechanism. This mechanism would facilitate collaborative operations against centers of “terrorism.” Each country would be represented by a delegate within this mechanism, and further details are expected to emerge in subsequent meetings.
Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm newspaper, previously disclosed a meeting with President Assad, shedding light on the ongoing developments in the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement path. According to Atwan, President Assad conveyed that understandings have been reached, emphasizing the forthcoming withdrawal from Syrian territory. This withdrawal is anticipated to pave the way for an improvement in bilateral relations beyond their previous state. It is worth noting that any future understanding will be based on the Adana Agreement of 1998, which previously regulated relations between the two countries.
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.