Turkey: Still no hope for political solution in Syria
The prospects for the sides in the Syrian conflict to reach a diplomatic solution is currently bleak, Turkey’s presidential spokesman said Thursday.

"At the current stage, we could not reach a point where one could say that there is hope for a political solution in Syria,” Ibrahim Kalin said in an interview with Russian news agency Tass. "We want to ensure political transition in Syria in cooperation with Russia as soon as possible."

Turkey considers Russia a partner in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis, Kalin said, holding summit meetings on Syria in Russia last year that lead to the creation of the International Syria Support Group.

He said Turkey's main goal is to permanently end the crisis in Syria, in part because Turkey has "felt all negative effects of Syrian conflict directly". Some of those effects are seen in the massive influx of Syrian refugees -- 2.7 million -- to whom Turkey has opened its borders.

Ankara has long held that while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in power it is difficult to talk about a political transition for the country whose regime Turkey blames for causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

It is important to create an inclusive, democratically legitimate political system recognized by all Syrians, Kalin said. "Turkey's and Russia's interests require such a result."

But getting to common ground may prove difficult with Turkey and Russia having vastly different views about Assad and his role in the future of Syria.

Russia has so far urged Assad to be part of the transition process and last September launched a military intervention in Syria, allegedly at the formal request of the Assad regime.

Since then, Moscow has staged airstrikes against positions held by Assad’s opponents.

The vicious war in Syria began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, more than a quarter of a million victims have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.

Turning to the recent coup attempt in Turkey, Kalin said Ankara appreciated Russia’s support after the abortive military takeover.

"Mr. [Vladimir] Putin's phone call to our president and expressing his support for the Turkish democracy and reaction for the coup attempt was a very important message, "he said of the Russian president.

Political leadership in Turkey gained strength and legitimacy with the neutralization of the coup attempt, Kalin said, and that bodes well for the relationship with Russia going forward.

"In this context, our relations with Russia will be normalized and strengthened,” he said.

The July 15 coup attempt martyred at least 239 people and wounded 2,200 others, who took to the streets to protest the illegal overthrow bid.

Turkey’s government accuses U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen and his FETO terrorist organization of organizing the putsch and has sent the U.S. two official requests for his extradition to face trial.

Drawing attention to the relationship between Russia and Turkey, Kalin said thanks to the work of Turkey’s leaders, the normalization of relations began after a Russian jet was downed by Turkey late last year.

After the Turkish Air Force shot down the jet for violating Turkish airspace near the Turkey-Syria border last November, relations between the two countries soured until the issue was largely resolved June 29 initiated by a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the countries’ leaders.

The two pilots who downed the Russian jet were arrested July 19 for alleged links to the coup attempt.

Turkey was friendly as soon as it learned the downed plane belonged to Russia, Kalin said, who also addressed the upcoming meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Putin.

The meeting will be the first between the two leaders since the downing of the Russian jet.

They will discuss the Syria crisis, fighting terror and regional issues at the Aug. 9 meeting in St. Petersburg.

Kalin said in a telephone conversation, the two men agreed to have a personal meeting before the G20 summit scheduled for next month in China.

"We have no doubts that the relations between the two countries will be better than before if they will continue cooperating on the basis of mutual interest,” Kalin said.

Last Modified: 2016-08-05 10:13:14
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