Foreign ministers from Turkiye, Syria, Russia, and Iran recently convened in Moscow, marking a significant milestone in the effort to rebuild relations between Ankara and Damascus. This meeting signifies a crucial step forward after years of animosity during the Syrian civil war. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasized the need for cooperation in combating terrorism and establishing conditions for the return of Syrian refugees in a tweet following the meeting.
Turkiye, as a NATO member, had actively supported political and armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the 12-year civil war. The country deployed its own troops in northern Syria and currently hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees.
During the talks, Minister Cavusoglu also stressed the importance of advancing the political process in Syria and safeguarding its territorial integrity. Faisal Mekdad, Syria’s foreign minister, acknowledged the potential for collaboration between Damascus and Ankara, despite the challenges faced in recent years.
However, Mekdad emphasized that Syria’s primary objective is to end the presence of all foreign military forces, including Turkey’s. Currently, Turkey holds a portion of northwest Syria, which is occupied by rival militias and jihadist factions supported by Turkey.
The Russian foreign ministry described the atmosphere of the meeting as positive and constructive. It was agreed that the deputy foreign ministers of each country would be responsible for developing a roadmap to enhance Syria-Turkey relations.
This move follows the discussions held in December between the defense ministers of Syria and Turkey in Moscow. Russia’s involvement in encouraging reconciliation between the Assad regime and Turkey underscores its role as a key ally and its commitment to facilitating dialogue and diplomatic solutions in the region.
In a significant development indicating a thaw in Damascus’s regional isolation, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received an invitation to attend the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia on May 19. This invitation from the Arab League highlights the potential for increased regional engagement with Syria and signals a positive shift in attitudes toward the country.
The meeting in Moscow represents a notable stride towards repairing the strained relations between Turkey and Syria, two countries that have been at odds for an extended period. The discussions centered around counterterrorism cooperation, the repatriation of Syrian refugees, and the advancement of the political process in Syria. With Russia’s active involvement in facilitating dialogue, there is renewed hope for diplomatic solutions and a path towards stability in the region.