Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has revealed the Syrian regime’s stance on normalizing relations with his country, intensifying his aggressive rhetoric against President Bashar al-Assad.
Erdogan, speaking to reporters accompanying him on his return from talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, stated, “Syria does not adopt a positive approach towards normalizing relations with our country. President Bashar al-Assad remains distant from the matter and does not play any role,” according to Anadolu Agency.
The Turkish president added, “Normalization of relations is possible if progress is made in the fight against terrorism and regarding the safe and voluntary return of refugees, as well as on the political track.”
Erdogan believed that his Syrian counterpart should refrain from any actions that could harm the normalization process.
He emphasized the necessity for the Syrian regime to act in line with the realities on the ground and distance itself from actions that could harm this process, stating, “al-Assad is observing from afar the steps taken within the Turkish-Russian-Iranian format.”
mentioned that Turkey, on the other hand, has opened its doors to this process, hoping that Syria would participate. He said, “We have affirmed that we are ready, but so far, there has been no positive stance from the Syrian side. We hope they take their place at the table,” clarifying that Ankara had emphasized from the beginning that “the quadrilateral process with the Syrian regime should be without preconditions.”
The Turkish stance came in response to al-Assad’s assertion that the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the north is the only way to restore relations between the two countries. This statement was made during a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, in which the latter emphasized his country’s support for Damascus.
Talk of normalizing relations between Syria and Turkey resurfaced with ongoing Russian efforts over the past months to re-establish communication between Ankara and Damascus. This has involved high-level contacts.
Moscow has repeatedly announced Russian efforts to resolve the crisis between Turkey and al-Assad, amid discussions between the two parties on the latest developments in Syria, especially in the north, and the fight against terrorist organizations, in addition to the return of refugees.
Tripartite talks took place between the defense ministers of Russia, Turkey, and Syria in Moscow on December 28th, during which they discussed ways to resolve the Syrian crisis, the refugee issue, and joint efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria. This was the first official ministerial-level meeting between the two countries since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, which led to tensions in relations between Ankara and Damascus.