Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday held a speech at the 2018 Munich Security Conference, in which he elaborated on the issue of Syria’s territorial integrity and on the progress made at Astana peace talks.
On Syria’s Territorial Integrity
“We have to be sincere that we are supporting territorial integrity of Syria and we need to pay more attention to political process, which is as important as fighting terrorist organizations,” Cavusoglu said.
The Turkish minister added that supporting a terrorist organization against another terrorist group was “a big mistake” as such an approach put Syria’s future at risk.
Cavusoglu’s remark comes amid Turkey’s ongoing military operation in the northern Syrian Kurdish-held district of Afrin, which started on January 20. Ankara has said its offensive was aimed at clearing the Turkish-Syrian border from terrorist presence. Damascus reacted by saying that the operation was an assault on Syria’s sovereignty.
The relations between Turkey and the United States are currently in crisis because of the support provided by Washington to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are regarded by Ankara as affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey and several other countries. Washington explains its backing of the Kurds by the need to fight against the Daesh terrorist group.
On Progress Made on Syria
“We made a lot of progress [in Syria] thanks to Astana and Sochi, and we link Sochi to Geneva right now. We can say now that the situation on the ground is much better despite the violations of the [ceasefire] regime in Idlib,” Cavusoglu said.
The Turkish minister also stressed that a lot of achievements had been made in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group but noted that it was early to speak about its total defeat in Iraq and Syria.
Syria has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting numerous opposition factions and terrorist groups. The international community has taken a number of steps aimed at settling the crisis, including through negotiations in Geneva and Astana. Russia and Iran, alongside Turkey, are guarantors of the ceasefire regime in Syria.
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress was held in Russia’s Sochi last month. It brought together about 1,400 delegates from the Syrian government and various opposition groups who agreed to form the Constitutional Commission in Geneva to amend the existing legislation of the Middle Eastern nation.