Russian Ambassador to Ankara Aleksei Erkhov stressed that the close cooperation between Turkey and Russia in Syria has paved the way for significant achievements.
"Concerning the Syria issue, Turkey and Russia have been cooperating closely. We've accomplished significant achievements so far. We kicked off the Astana process, and within its framework, we were able to set up de-escalation zones in four main conflict points," Erkhov said while speaking in a panel organized by TOBB University titled "Russian Foreign Policy and Contemporary Turkish-Russian relations."
Pointing to the joint efforts of Iran, Turkey and Russia for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, Erkhov said a more peaceful environment in Syria could be expected if progress is achieved in the congress.
The Astana process was brokered by Turkey, Russia and Iran to put an end to the bloody civil war in Syria. During the talks in Astana, the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which is to be held in the Russian city of Sochi Jan. 29-30, was also on the agenda.
Since Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria with the goal of clearing its borders of the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), the Russian envoy stated that Russia is closely following the operation. Erkhov underlined that Russia is in favor of solving the crisis in Syria with political negotiations for the country's security and peace.
Turkey has repeatedly stressed that it will not allow a terror corridor to form along its border. However, Turkey has been caught up in a debate with the U.S. about PYD/YPG fighters in Syria being provided military support by Washington. Turkey has sternly warned its NATO ally about the implications of such a move and pointed to the threats to its national security. When its concerns were disregarded, Turkey acted on its own to clear PYD/YPG terrorists from its border.
Touching on historical relations between Turkey and Russia, Erkhov stated that it is important to remember the solidarity and close cooperation between the countries throughout history in addition to the periods of wars.
Commenting on current ties, the Russian envoy said: "We have new opportunities for partnership and cooperation. These new opportunities enable us resolve disputes and differences of opinion. The personal efforts of Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan play a significant role in this."