Turkey continues to fulfill its responsibilities to maintain the ceasefire and stability in the Idlib region in northwestern Syria, the defense ministry said on Sunday.
During a ministry briefing to reporters, questions about the latest situation in Idlib and Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) observation points in the region following the recent Sochi meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were answered.
The ministry’s sources said that Turkey is fulfilling its obligations set out in previous agreements to preserve the ceasefire and ensure peace and security in the region.
“There is no change in our vantage points or our activities in the area,” the sources said.
Ministry sources have also drawn attention to the fact that the number of Syrians returning to Idlib – where peace and security have been ensured after the activities carried out following the March 2020 agreement – is more than 400,000.
Asked about the resumption of joint patrols between the Turkish armed forces and the Russian armed forces, the ministry replied: “Our coordinated work with the Russian Federation continues.”
Putin and Erdoğan last week hailed their three-hour meeting in Sochi to discuss the Syrian conflict, calling the exchange “useful” and “productive.”
These were the first face-to-face meetings between the two leaders in 18 months. The Russian leader welcomed Erdoğan to his Black Sea residence in the resort town of Sochi after two weeks of isolation following a coronavirus outbreak among his collaborators.
The two, who did not speak to reporters after the talks, were due to discuss northwestern Syria, where Assad regime troops and Moscow have stepped up airstrikes in recent weeks.
Earlier today, Erdoğan told Putin that he believes there are great advantages to “Turkey and Russia having stronger relations with each passing day”.
“The steps we have taken with Russia regarding Syria are of the utmost importance,” Erdoğan said. “Peace there depends on Turkey-Russia relations.”
“The negotiations are sometimes difficult – but with a positive end result,” Putin told Erdoğan.
He added that they “have learned to find compromises favorable to both parties”.
Russia and Turkey have historically had a complex relationship, balancing regional rivalries with the search for common ground on economic and strategic interests.
In recent years, the two powers have notably clashed over Syria, where Moscow and Ankara support opposing camps in the civil war.
In Syria last year, they sponsored a ceasefire deal in the northwestern Idlib region, home to the last major opposition groups in northwestern Syria.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean
The ministry also underlined that the Turkish armed forces will continue to protect the rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, and will continue to be the guarantor of peace and security on the Island of Cyprus in accordance with international guarantees and alliance agreements.
“Despite all our calls in the framework of good neighborly relations, Greece continues its actions which violate the status of the demilitarized islands of the Aegean Sea in violation of international agreements. Since the start of 2021, it has committed 1,989 violations against the islands with demilitarized status with its military, maritime and air vehicles, ”he added.
Emphasizing that there has recently been an increase in Greece’s armaments activities, the ministry said: “Greece, which is reflected in open sources, is considered to be trying to strike a balance against Turkey with its activities. increasing weaponry. The necessary attempts are through diplomatic channels against the illegal, provocative and aggressive attitude of Greece. and the necessary response is given on the ground within the framework of reciprocity.
“Our expectation of our neighbors is to act in accordance with the requirements of international law, reason, logic, fairness, humanitarian and civil standards, and to display a sincere attitude in favor of solving the problems. by peaceful methods based on good neighborly relations and by dialogue. “
Greece has often been embroiled in tensions with neighboring Turkey over a range of issues, from competing claims over Aegean oil resources to the demilitarization of the islands. Its burgeoning weapons program is designed to counter Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, against which France is one of the few EU states to have offered public support in recent months.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the eastern Mediterranean, has rejected claims to maritime borders made by members of the European Union, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate sovereign rights Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The two sides cite a series of decades-old international treaties and agreements to support their conflicting territorial claims.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed Ankara’s support for resolving outstanding issues in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations. Instead of choosing to resolve the issues with Ankara through dialogue, Athens has repeatedly refused to sit at the negotiating table and has chosen to rally Brussels to take a tougher stance against Turkey.