AuthorTopic: Turkey, Syria & Russia proving cooperation possible - Yasar Yakis, ex-Turkish FM  (Read 387 times)

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Turkey, Syria & Russia proving cooperation possible - Yasar Yakis, ex-Turkish FM
26 Oct, 2016

Journalists, politicians and academicians have descended upon the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi for the 13th annual Valdai International Discussion Club at a time of deepening political fractures between Russia and the West.

RT spoke on the sidelines of the event with Yasar Yakis, former Foreign Minister of Turkey, for his opinion on a wide range of issues, including Russian sanctions and the ongoing Syrian conflict, which has driven a wedge between Russia and the US-led coalition.

RT: The Turkish–Russian relationship has had a lot of ups and downs over the last year or so. How do you see a future of the relationship particularly now with the regards to solving the Syria conflict, and now that the relationship appears to be at a better level than it was last year?

Yasar Yakis: I knew that the Syrian crisis may help the Turkish–Russian relations to improve, because there are areas of cooperation. So far, Turkey and Russia agreed to cooperate on several specific questions. Both during the visit of President Recep Erdogan to St. Petersburg, and also during the recent visit of President Putin to Istanbul.

Also at a later stage they talked on telephone to each other – I think it was exchange of concessions, if we may say so. Turkey was asked by Russia whether Turkey could mediate in order to persuade some of the opposition factions in Turkey to withdraw from Eastern Aleppo. If Turkey could do it, it would be a good service to Russia. And in exchange for it, I guess at least, Russia agreed to show understanding to the measures that Turkey is taking in the north of Syria in order to prevent the Kurdish factions to link the two Kurdish cantons. This is a new area of cooperation.

The third area of cooperation is more specific, in my opinion. Now with the Kurdish question in the North of Syria, becoming more important than whether Bashar Assad should remain [in power] or not, because Turkey’s position at the beginning was that first priority has to be given to Assad to step aside, whereas now the Kurdish question has become more important, and which also requires that territorial integrity of Syria has to be preserved. If the Kurds declare their independence or autonomy, then the Syrian territorial integrity will be jeopardized.

So Turkey is moving from: ‘Bashar Assad is going first’ to 'preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria' is a big step. At this point, Turkey’s national interest and the Syrian national interest are overlapping, they are coinciding. And Russia is also in favor of the preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria. These three countries can cooperate. Turkey has now a national interest in cooperating with Assad (…)

RT: There has been some discussion in the West about new sanctions being put on Russia, in particularity because of Aleppo. They have been rejected for the time being. Do you view sanctions as an effective measure of achieving foreign policy goals, or should dialogue always come first?

YY: Armed conflict is the worst thing. When armed could be avoided, the confrontation could be avoided by sanctions, it may be preferable; but no sanctions at all is the best. For the Aleppo question, the truth is not yet cleared out – who was wrong and why the ceasefire has collapsed etc. We do not know. We’re still waiting for a neutral body to find out what exactly happened in Aleppo and how the ceasefire collapsed. Before ignoring all these details, I don’t think that we should talk about the sanctions. And if possible the international community should not resort to sanctions, because it makes the tension in the international relations more acute.
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