Turkey, Russia continue cooperation on South Caucasus

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Turkey and Russia are continuing to cooperate on issues regarding the South Caucasus after a ceasefire reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Dec. 29 after a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

“As the two major countries in the region, our cooperation is producing tangible results. A ceasefire was established on Karabakh. The Russian peacekeeping mission is on the ground. Our joint observation center is also being established. Here, our aim is lasting peace and stability,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with Lavrov in the Russian resort city of Sochi.

Their meeting came ahead of a planned meeting of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council, set to be co-chaired by their presidents.

“As these steps are taken, we will establish lasting peace and normalize relations in the region,” the minister said, noting that Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev “extended his peace hand to Armenia.”

“We want to see such a result that there is no need for the missions we have set up to establish peace and to observe,” the minister said.

Çavuşoğlu stressed that the close dialogue between the Turkish and Russian presidents, and the mutual trust between them, serves not only the development of bilateral relations but also regional ties.

Turkey’s relations with Russia are not an alternative to its ties with NATO and the European Union, Çavuşoğlu also said.

“We may have our differences with Russia. We don’t have to have the same opinion on every issue. Our ties with Russia are not an alternative to our ties with NATO or the EU,” he said.

The minister stressed Turkey prefers dialogue on cases of disagreements rather than sanctions.

“The EU countries should also choose dialogue where there is a difference of opinion, instead of questioning our relationship with Russia or other countries,” he stated.

His comments came after fellow NATO member Washington sanctioned Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defenses, and the EU prepared punitive steps over Turkey’s dispute with members Greece and Greek Cyprus over Mediterranean offshore rights.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Moscow and Ankara’s military cooperation would not be deterred by the United States imposing sanctions on Turkey earlier this month for acquiring the Russian missile defense system.

“We have confirmed our mutual intention to develop military ties with Turkey” despite “Washington’s illegitimate pressure,” Lavrov said.

Regarding the Libyan crisis, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey supports the ongoing political process in Libya. Lavrov also said they are in touch with all the parties in Libya, and Turkey and Russia provide all kinds of support for a political solution in Libya.

Hurriyet Daily News

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