Erdogan: Ousting Syria’s Assad Is Not Turkey’s Aim
TEHRAN (FNA)- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that ousting Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad is not Ankara’s aim. Turkey favors Syria’s territorial integrity and prefers diplomacy for addressing the outstanding issues, he stressed.
"We do not have such a problem as the overthrow or non-overthrow of Assad. All the steps that we are now taking in Syria, including those in coordination with Russia, are aimed at combating terrorism from the Eastern and Western parts of the Euphrates to the Mediterranean. I have always said that one of the most important components of democracy is the presence of a strong opposition. Unfortunately, we do not have it. This is the problem. I should note that Turkey has no claims to foreign lands. It stands for the territorial integrity of Syria," Erdogan told the media upon his return from Lvov, where tripartite talks were held on Thursday with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, TASS reported.
According to the Turkish leader, quoted on the TRT television channel, he maintains contacts on Syria with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
"We discussed Syria during my visit to Sochi. We hope for the adoption of Syria’s new constitution in the near future, which will allow for stabilizing the situation and taking the necessary steps to solve the outstanding problems," Erdogan said.
He stressed that the Turkish Defense Ministry maintained permanent contacts with Russian partners.
"Our Ministry of Defense is in constant contact with Russia. We will continue these contacts. I would like Iran to join this work. This has not happened yet, though," he added.
The Turkish authorities earlier stated that the army was ready for another operation in Northern Syria. Ankara says the main aim of the planned operation will be to expand the 30-kilometer security zone created in October 2019 after operation Peace Spring.
According to Turkish media reports, 50,000 Turkish troops and 5,000 militants of the Ankara-controlled Free Syrian Army are expected to take part in the new operation.
Turkey wishes to establish control of a 600-kilometer section of the border with the neighboring country. Ankara explains the operation is necessary in the light of threats from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its wing called People's Defense Units.
Turkey will continue to exert efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis through diplomacy and negotiations, Erdogan added.
"At the meeting in Lvov, I stressed that we will continue to exert efforts to end the war through diplomacy and negotiations. I recalled that I told esteemed Putin in Sochi that we are ready to serve as a platform for his meeting with Zelensky," he said.
As a result of the talks in Lvov, the parties agreed that the UN would support the mission of IAEA inspectors to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, if Moscow and Kiev agreed to the visit. Turkey will contribute to the restoration of Ukraine’s infrastructure damaged as a result of hostilities.