President Erdoğan meets Putin in Moscow amid Idlib tensions


Turkish and Russian presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin, held talks in the Russian capital on Aug 27 to discuss recently escalated tensions in the Idlib province of Syria as a result of intensified military operations by the regime forces.

The meeting took place at Zhukovsky International Airport in Russia where the MAKS-2019, an annual Russia aviation and space fair, took place. The meeting lasted one hour and 20 minutes.

The two leaders discussed recent developments in Syria, particularly escalated tension in Idlib and ongoing Turkish-American efforts to set up a safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border in the northeastern Euphrates.

Turkey has expressed concerns over the intensified military actions of the Syrian regime into Idlib on the grounds that they can ignite a humanitarian crisis and a fresh refugee influx. Putin’s spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, sought to ease Ankara’s concerns through a statement a day before Erdoğan’s visit by saying that Russian understands the Turkish worries about Idlib.

However, he added that Russia is equally concerned over the increased presence of jihadist terrorists in the enclave, although a Turkish-Russian deal brokered in September 2018 suggested the withdrawal of all terror elements from the demilitarized province.

Synergy in the field of aviation

Before the meeting, Erdoğan and Putin attended the opening ceremony of the MAKS-2019 fair.

“We have been carrying out important projects in aviation with ‘The future is in the skies’ motto,” Erdoğan said.

The motto Erdoğan was referring to is a quote by modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, stressing the importance of aviation and space systems.

“Our T-129 attack helicopter is among vehicles many countries want to add to their inventories,” he said, adding that Turkey has come a long way in producing manned and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Hailing the success of Turkish Airlines as the aircraft company is flying to hundreds of countries, Erdoğan said: “We put the first phase of Istanbul Airport, which is one of the largest airports in the world, into use in [2019]. Our desire is that [Istanbul Airport] will host 200 million passengers annually, when all of its phases come into effect.”

The president also emphasized the “close and sincere dialogue” between Turkey and Russia, saying the deep historical background has led the way for such cooperation. The number of Russian tourists travelling to Turkey for their vacations has been hitting record figures, Erdoğan said. “We expect about 6 million Russian tourists to come to [Turkey] in 2019,” he informed.

The volume of trade between Turkey and Russia has already surpassed $25 billion yet the objective is for it to reach $100 billion, Erdoğan conveyed.

“I believe that the synergy we have with Russia regarding aviation and space sectors will deepen our bilateral relations,” he added. Meanwhile, the Russian president conveyed his appreciation for the attention the MAKS 2019 has garnered.

“We regard this as a sign of appreciation of the world towards the great potential of our country. Russia is one of the leading countries in the world in aircraft industry,” Putin said. “I am sure that Russia’s success in aviation and space industry will attract the attention of all our partners, especially our Turkish guests,” he said.

Putin promotes SU-57 to Erdoğan

The two leaders visited the fair site before the beginning of official talks. The Russian leader has introduced Russia’s sophisticated SU-57 aircraft to Erdoğan at a time when Turkey has been excluded from the F-35 project by the United States because of its decision to deploy S-400 air defense systems.

Ahead of the bilateral meeting, Erdoğan told reporters that he was “pleased” to visit the fair, both seeing the fighter aircraft and passenger planes.

He said Russia‘s steps taken in space aviation proves its position in the science area.

Putin, for his part, said Russia and Turkey can unite efforts in the aircraft construction industry.

“We have introduced you to a whole chain of both military and civilian production. This demonstrates not only Russia‘s capabilities in the aerospace sector but also demonstrates the possibilities of cooperation.

“We know about your plans for high-tech development of the economy in Turkey. We could combine our efforts in those areas that are most in demand,” he said.

‘Important steps taken’

After the meeting, the leaders held a joint news conference. Putin said the bilateral ties with Turkey are based on friendship, mutual respect and interests and Russia agrees with Erdoğan on eliminating terrorists from Idlib

In return Erdoğan said Idlib faces a humanitarian crisis, since May as more than 500 civilians were killed.

“Turkey, Russia have taken important steps to ensure stability in Syria, Turkey is ready to cooperate within Astana format to ensure tranquility in Idlib,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan also added that Turkey and Russia discussed joint cooperation in defense industry.

Hurriyet Daily News


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