Moscow and Ankara maintain regular contact, including between the military, on Turkey’s operation in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Thursday.
“As you know, President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan called President [Vladimir] Putin, and before that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had called me. We have a deconfliction channel, a channel of regular communications, and our military officials maintain regular contact with each other. We want this situation to calm down as soon as possible, first of all based on the principle of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Lavrov stressed.
Russia is going to promote a dialogue between Damascus and Ankara and also Kurdish organizations, according to Lavrov.
“We will be pressing for the beginning of a dialogue between Turkey and Syria. There are reasons to believe that this will meet the interests of both countries. Also, we will be promoting contacts between Damascus and Kurdish organizations that renounce extremism and terrorist methods of activity,” Lavrov said.
“We’ve heard Syrian officials and Kurdish organizations’ representatives say they are interested in Russia using its good relations with all parties to this process for assistance in establishing such a dialogue. We’ll see how to go about this business,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov also said that Turkey’s rightful concerns about the situation along the border with Syria could have been settled on the basis of the existing agreements.
“We have been constantly highlighting from the very start of the crisis in Syria that we understand the rightful concerns of the Republic of Turkey as to the safety of its borders,” Lavrov said. “At the same time, we were emphasizing in every way the need to settle these concerns within the framework of the agreements existing between Damascus and Ankara, the so-called Adana agreement of 1998,” he went on to say.
“Unfortunately, an efficient implementation of that agreement, that envisaged joint efforts to thwart acts of terror on the border between Turkey and Syria, was complicated by the activity of the Americans and the coalition on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River,” Lavrov stressed.
“We have been for years warning about an extreme danger of the experiment that the Americans were conducting there, trying to set the Kurds and Arab tribes against each other in every possible way. We were warning against playing the Kurdish card, as this can come to no good, of which we were also warned by our colleagues from other countries in the region having large Kurdish communities,” the Russian diplomat added.
On October 9, Ankara announced launching Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria, which began with airstrikes on Kurdish positions. The operation’s goal is to create a buffer zone along the Turkish border, where, according to Ankara, Syrian refugees residing in Turkey could return. Syria’s state agency SANA slammed the operation as aggression.
The international community condemned Ankara’s actions. The United Kingdom, Germany and France requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the situation.