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Erdogan: Turkey disagrees with Russia on Syria

December 2, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said that Turkey agrees with Russia on the need to reach a comprehensive solution to the Syrian crisis, but they differ on what this solution should be, Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint press conference held with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in the Turkish capital Ankara, Erdogan pointed out that Turkey has held many discussions throughout the four years of the Syrian conflict. “The Syrian regime has terrorised, killed and tortured its own people”, he noted.

The Turkish president assured his Russian counterpart of Ankara’s position on the Syrian crisis, reaffirming that Turkey holds the Assad regime responsible for the killing of more than 300,000 people. He went on to declare that any solution to the Syrian crisis must include the removal of Assad from power.

“The question is: If Assad leaves, who will then be his replacement? I say the national will in Syria will replace Assad. If the national will in Syria replaces Assad, then there is no problem; Syria has witnessed the deaths of more than 300,000 people and has arrived to this situation because of the Assad regime, which did not bring any good to the country”, Erdogan stated.

The Turkish president stressed the need to create a forum to promote solidarity among neighbouring countries and the region as a whole in order to solve the Syrian crisis, regardless of religious or ideological differences. He underlined that the international community must approach the Syrian issue from a humanitarian angle in order to prevent terrorist organisations exploiting the situation.

On the subject of Turkish-Russian relations, Erdogan said that the two countries have signed several economic agreements and professed his aim to increase the volume of bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2023. The Turkish president also highlighted the need for the two countries to combat terrorism at home and abroad, praising Russia for its moves to improve the rights of Crimean Tatars, including making their indigenous tongue an official language.

“We found [Russia’s] approach positive on the situation of Crimean Tatars. They say they are ready to provide Crimean Tatars with the rights which they have not been able to obtain thus far,” Erdogan announced.

Russia took over the Crimea in March following a controversial referendum in which leaders of the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic minority group, had opposed the peninsula’s referendum to declare independence from the Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. According to UN sources, more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 9,000 wounded in the conflict between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine since mid-April.

Erdogan also said that the two leaders have discussed Turkey’s Akkuyu power plant, one of the country’s main strategic investments, revealing that work on the station will increase in the next phase after receiving approval from the environmental impact assessment (EIA) commission.