(TASS) Turkey will do everything it can to maintain the ceasefire in Syria, Turkish Ambassador to Russia, Huseyin Dirioz, told a round-table discussion “Russian-Turkish Relations at the Present Stage.
“Turkey as part of a trilateral mechanism (Russia-Turkey-Iran – TASS) is doing its utmost to ensure the ceasefire mechanism,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have observed ceasefire violations, especially recently. However, concrete steps have been taken to put an end to that.”
The ambassador noted special importance of the trilateral framework for the Syrian settlement. “The trilateral format is very important, since each of its participants has an influence on the parties to the Syrian conflict. Thanks to this format, at the very beginning we were able to ensure a ceasefire in Aleppo, the evacuation of people and prevent a humanitarian disaster. This work was later extended to the entire Syrian territory,” he said.
“But, of course, the goal is not to replace the Geneva process, but to assist this process to find a political solution to the problem,” the ambassador explained.
On Russian-Turkish relations
Russia and Turkey have wrapped up normalizing ties and now they have returned to the pre-crisis level, according to Dirioz.
“I believe it is essential that we put to rest the term normalization of our relations, since our ties have gotten back on track. They have not just returned to the pre-crisis level, the goals were set for their further advancement,” Dirioz said.
A member of the Russian International Affairs Council, Pyotr Stegniy, who was Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey in 2003-2007, said the talks between Russian and Turkish heads of state, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Moscow on March 10 closed the books on the crisis in bilateral relations.
“This is already the fourth meeting by the presidents after the situation was resolved through diplomatic means, and it had a special significance. The sixth meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Council was held, this is the top of the pyramid that was built,” he said.
“That atmosphere of trust mentioned by the presidents at the press conference is also a very important outcome of the top-level contacts,” Stegniy noted.
Relations between the two countries sharply deteriorated after a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet downed a Russian Su-24 bomber in the skies over Syria on November 24, 2015. Pilot Oleg Peshkov was killed by militants from the ground after ejecting from the aircraft. The navigator was rescued and taken to base. A Mi-8 helicopter involved in the rescue operation was lost and a contract marine was killed.
Ankara claimed the bomber violated the Turkish airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian Defense Ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.
On November 28, Putin signed a decree imposing special economic measures against Turkey. On January 1, 2016, the bulk of sanctions against Turkey came into effect.
The Turkish president apologized in late June 2016 for the incident and relations between the two countries started normalizing.