With the latest agreement Turkey has made with Russia regarding the Syrian issue, the country once again proved that it plays a critical role for the EU, whereas President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan demonstrated that he has been right in his policies and the recommendations he has been making for years.If not for Turkey's determined stance, innumerable innocent people in Syria would have lost their lives while thousands of new refugees would have headed to Europe through various means. If the articles recently agreed by Turkey and Russia on the issue of Idlib had been implemented years ago for all of Syria when Turkey first recommended them, many things would be different today. The course of the Syrian civil war would probably be different, millions of refugees would not have had to leave Syria, and the Syrian regime would not have shed blood in the country. But unfortunately, we have lost a great deal of time.
Although President Erdoğan's suggestions were very insightful, his opinions on this matter were not accepted for years since a number of countries and interest groups had different plans. They did not want to see the end of the Syrian civil war and seized every opportunity to realize their plans by taking advantage of the war. The U.S.' weapon aid to the PKK terror group's Syrian offshoots - the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People's Protection Units (YPG) - in order to control the north of Syria is one of the clearest examples of this. Many such plans have so far been prevented thanks to Turkey's determined stance and successful military operations. Thanks to Turkey, the course of the civil war changed since many regions in Syria were purged from Daesh, the PKK, PYD and YPG. In all the regions Turkey intervened in Syria, the Syrian people are leading their lives peacefully. Many refugees who had to leave these regions have returned and currently live in their homeland.
Recently, a Russian jet was downed in Syria just after Turkey and Russia agreed to form a demilitarized zone in Idlib to prevent another disaster that would certainly claim many lives and lead to a new wave of refugees as Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's militants planned to attack the city. Israel is probably the leading country disturbed by this new period started in Syrian territory thanks to Turkey-Russia cooperation. Therefore, a jet carrying 15 Russian soldiers was targeted by Syria's Russian-made defense system as a result of Israeli fighter jets' attack in Syria without issuing a proper warning to Russia. All the soldiers on the jet were killed. And I am afraid such provocations will continue.
But all these provocations will not obstruct Turkey's determination and the right steps taken by Russia after realizing that the Syrian crisis could not be resolved without Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has announced the details of the Idlib agreement between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. According to this, the borders of Idlib will be protected under the memorandum of understanding that was signed. There will be no change in the status of Idlib. Heavy weapons will be removed from the demilitarized zone. Civilians will stay. Only terrorist groups will be removed. Russia will take measures to prevent an attack against Idlib and Assad's regime forces' entering Idlib. Russia and Turkey will go on with their patrolling missions on 12 observation points. Turkey will deploy additional troops and the heavy weapons will be removed from the demilitarized zone by Oct. 15. Also, the M4 and M5 highways in Syria, which are important in terms of trade activities, would be open to traffic by the end of the year. All these articles are very meaningful and valuable developments for Syria.
Millions of Syrians are thankful to Turkey and Erdoğan for this. But I think the EU and the European countries confronting the refugee challenge must be the most thankful Turkey. Relieved to a serious extent with the refugee agreement signed between Turkey and the EU, the EU countries have dodged the threat of another refugee wave thanks to Turkey's latest accomplishment. Also, it has been revealed that Turkey's suggestions are of vital importance for the EU and therefore must be supported by the union. Within the EU, there are many politicians and states who give advice on the Syrian case. But most of them do not take any tangible steps about the situation. Turkey, on the other hand, is not only creating solutions, but implementing them as well, which is exactly what the EU needs.
Hopefully, the latest developments must be correctly evaluated by the European Parliament. Nowadays, a new Turkey Report is being drafted. So, we hope that the EU deputies can appreciate the vital role Turkey plays for the EU, which is confronted by serious problems due to the refugee challenge, and will not allow the efforts to undermine the cooperation between Turkey and the EU. The EU's need for Turkey is increasing every day, and Turkey's critical place for the EU has been revealed with the Idlib case.