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Putin hails Turkey’s efforts against terror groups

Moscow, Ankara agree to work on additional measures to implement Idlib memorandum, says Russian president

23.01.2019
Putin hails Turkey’s efforts against terror groups

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW

Ankara and Moscow agreed to work on additional measures to implement the Idlib memorandum signed by the two countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Last September, following a meeting between Erdogan and Putin, the two sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib, Syria.

Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib are to remain in areas where they are already present, while Russia and Turkey conduct joint patrols in the area to prevent renewed fighting.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin said the regular meetings between the two countries yield “positive results.”

He also praised the Astana process in which Russia and Turkey work together with Iran. Putin called the process “most effective” with respect to Syrian settlement.

Putin said that another trilateral summit between Moscow, Ankara and Tehran on Syria will be held in Russia in the “nearest future”.

“Mr. President [Erdogan] and I have already agreed on an approximate date, and we will need to coordinate with our Iranian partners [in this regard],” he said.

Syrian constitutional committee

Commenting on the prospects of the Syrian political process, Putin said Russia and Turkey have a position to achieve a solution to the Syrian crisis via political and diplomatic means.

He lamented that Germany, France and the U.K. tried to influence the decision of the UN secretary general regarding the establishment of the Syrian constitutional committee.

Putin noted that the three countries sent to Antonio Guterres a letter in which they asked him to tell then UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to not approve the list of candidates for the committee presented by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

“Let me remind you that Russian and Turkish diplomats, in close contact with their Iranian colleagues, have carried out serious work on the composition of this committee and have fulfilled all the agreements reached in Istanbul with the French and German sides,” he asserted.

“Alas, it was not possible to form a constitutional committee until the end of last year. However, our efforts have created a solid and balanced basis for a sustainable and viable political settlement process,” the Russian president said.

According to him, another direction where Turkey and Russia have planned to work together is repatriation of Syrian refugees and post-conflict restoration.

Speaking about the situation in Syria’s Idlib, Putin said: “Turkish friends are doing a lot to eliminate the terrorist threat emanating from there [Idlib]”.


US troop withdrawal

Putin termed the announcement of the U.S. troop withdrawal “a positive step,” saying it will help stabilize the situation in the country.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly announced plans to withdraw American forces from the war-weary country.

The withdrawal plans came on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against the YPG/PKK terrorist group.

Putin also hailed the Russian-Turkish economic cooperation, saying the trade turnover increased to $23 billion dollars in 10 months of the last year, exceeding the figure of the whole 2017.

The construction of TurkStream and Akkuyu are being implemented as planned, he said.

“We hope to build the first unit of the Akkuyu on the centenary of the Turkish Republic,” the Russian president added.

The TurkStream will carry 31.5 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Turkey and Europe with two lines. The first line, with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters, will serve Turkey and the other line will provide gas to Europe via Turkey.

The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is being constructed by Russia in southern Turkey and will be Turkey's first nuke plant.

Putin invited Turkey to participate as a partner country of the International Industrial Exhibition, INNOPROM slated to be held in Yekaterinburg in July 2019.

He noted that around six million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2018 and thanked the country for creating “a safe and comfortable environment for Russian citizens”.

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