The recent statements by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syria’s Bashar Assad suggest that a new phase might be starting in the Ankara-Damascus normalization process.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported on Assad’s meeting with Alexander Lavrentiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Representative for the Middle East, on June 26, noting that the two officials discussed the Türkiye-Syria process.

The report highlighted Assad’s remark that “he is open to any initiative regarding Syria-Türkiye relations.”

According to what we have learned, Lavrentiev also stated during his meeting with Assad that the conditions are more suitable than ever for the success of their mediation and that Russia is ready to work.

Two days after Assad’s statements, President Erdoğan’s comments on the possibility of a softening process were also promising. The Turkish president, noting that there is “no reason not to establish (diplomatic relations with Syria),” said, “Just as we once developed relations between Türkiye and Syria, we will act together in the same way again.”

He also emphasized that Ankara has no plans or goals to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs.

Erdoğan’s brief statement, in which he mentioned twice that they do not have any intention of interfering in Syria’s internal affairs, is undoubtedly a message to the Damascus administration.

In 2022, the Damascus administration, under Russia’s mediation, made the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria a precondition for transitioning to political negotiations with Türkiye. The fact that Assad is now not mentioning a condition like the “withdrawal of Turkish troops” and instead referring to a minimal basis such as “respect for sovereignty” is a clear indicator of the will for a solution.

Moreover, everyone, especially Moscow, which has been involved in the improvement of Ankara-Damascus relations for several years, is aware that the conditions have changed. Israel’s repositioning of its forces from Gaza to the Lebanon front also highlights Syria’s position. After all, the U.S. aircraft carriers did not come to the Eastern Mediterranean for the Palestinians.

Türkiye’s key role in regional stability

In the West, Assad, who is subject to arrest warrants and is isolated, is also alone in the region. The relationship he has established with countries like Iran is akin to clutching at straws. This predicament makes Türkiye, the only democracy integrated with the West in the Middle East, unique for Syria. Assad has no choice but to improve relations with his only neighbor, Türkiye, to repel U.S.-backed organizations like the PKK’s Syrian presence, YPG and Daesh, which control half of the country, and to give a lifeline to his economy.

Normalization with Damascus is, of course, also in the interest of Ankara, which bears the economic, political and social burden of millions of Syrian refugees. This is even true for the European Union, which has been experiencing anxious days following the European Parliament elections dominated by the refugee issue.

However, there has not been the slightest change in the European countries’ policies on Syria. They cannot see that the deepening crisis in Syria means millions of refugees heading toward Europe.

How much longer will the EU, which has been saddled with the cost of the U.S.’ gamble in Ukraine and its plundering in the oil geography, be dragged along in the wake of the United States?

The Daily Sabah Newsletter

Keep up to date with what’s happening in Turkey,
it’s region and the world.

You can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Kaynak bağlantısı