Talks with officials and journalists in Moscow have revealed that the Russians see President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a key element of stability not only for Turkey but also for the region, thus they support the constitutional changes that will usher Turkey into a presidential system.
Sources close to the Kremlin say Russian President Vladimir Putin has carefully watched the process in Turkey as Parliament voted to change the Constitution and create a presidential system. There was apparently some confusion about the powers of the president and Parliament at the initial stage, but these were sorted out and the Russians are convinced that this system will create further stability in Turkey. The Kremlin understands that the new system in Turkey will strengthen the administrative structure of the country, properly define the powers of the president and create clear lines between the judiciary, the legislative and the administrative branch.
The Sabah media group organized a gathering of top level Russian officials closely related to Turkey, intellectuals and press people, where columnists from the Sabah group including newspaper Sabah and the Daily Sabah as well briefed the guests on all aspects of Turkish-Russian relations and the developments in Syria and Iraq. Thus Sabah did a great job in preparing the groundwork for the upcoming visit of President Erdoğan to Moscow to attend high level strategic cooperation talks with Russia.
On the sidelines of this gathering we had the opportunity to meet top analysts on Turkey working for the Kremlin and exchange views.
In Moscow there is a lot of praise for the growing cooperation between Turkey and Russia and they credit Erdoğan and Putin for this positive upturn. The officials feel that the two countries have cooperated in Syria in such a positive manner that this has created an environment for a permanent ceasefire that could eventually lead to a political settlement in the country.
The Russians, like Turkey, support the territorial integrity of Syria and do not look kindly on efforts to create a Kurdish state in the northern parts of the country. They seem to regard the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a group to be taken seriously, yet they do not go out of their way to support it like the Americans. Some analysts in Moscow feel the Russians play the PYD card as a part of their rivalry with the U.S. and they do not want to leave this group only to the care of Washington. There is also talk that Moscow wants to keep the PYD card handy in case there is a hitch in Turkish-Russian ties.
The Russians seem to prefer to look the other way and have given Turkey the green light as it completes its operations in al-Bab and secures the area, ridding it of Deash. Turkey, on the other hand, is now planning its Manbij operation to clear the Arab city of the Kurds and complete the secure zone to the west of the Euphrates River. Then Turkey will head for Raqqa with the help of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) if the conditions are ripe. It is clear that Turkey wants to take such a step after careful consideration and in close contact with Moscow as well as the U.S.The fact that Turkey and Russia have managed to secure a temporary cease-fire in Syria, and have now transformed it into a permanent cease-fire, has brought hope that the two can now work to forge some kind of an understanding to create a new and united Syria. Moscow and Ankara feel the American Trump administration can also contribute to this process and once again become a part of the Syrian equation.
Meanwhile the fact that Turkey and Russia are discussing cooperation in the defense industry and that Turkey may acquire the S-400 air defense systems is another important element in the relations between the two countries.
All of these matters will be discussed during the upcoming visit by President Erdoğan to Moscow on March 9. Moscow is preparing to give a warm welcome to Erdoğan and his delegation.
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