Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Prime Ministry Office in Dolmabahçe Palace where they were to attend the Third High-Level Cooperation Council meeting held on Monday.
During the one on one meeting, Erdoğan is stated to have told Putin that Syria could no longer persevere with Assad in power and that in his place they proposed a transitional government take over consisting of individuals from the opposition as well as the Ba'ath regime that have not been involved whatsoever in the ongoing violence. Supposedly, Putin did not object to this proposal this time and instead said, "Let's work on it."
Speaking at a joint press conference that followed the bilateral meeting, Putin also announced this sentiment by stating, "There are new ideas that we are going to work on." According to the information obtained, no specific name was mentioned as a potential leader for a new administration in Syria during the discussion. However, sources state that Turkey did propose the Russian side "suggest a potential name to lead the new administration."
'MAY THE BLOODSHED END'
Erdoğan shared that he and Putin had the opportunity to discuss the situation in the Middle East and especially the crisis in Syria, and stated, "We want to especially thank the Russian Federation for their contribution and position in regards to the recent upgrade of the U.N.'s recognition of Palestine to observer state status. It is extremely pleasing to see that our foreign policy principles are in line with those of our Russian friends. Our greatest wish is for the conflict and bloodshed in Syria to come to an immediate end. Our foreign affairs ministers will be intensifying efforts in order to reap a solution to the situation. It is of vital importance for our country, the region and the world, that the Syrian public regains control of their own will and for our neighbors Syria to once again achieve peace and stability. During our meeting, we had the opportunity to reiterate all of these sentiments to our Russian comrades," stated Erdoğan."
A RESPONSE DRAWING ON CHEKHOV
When asked to comment on the situation in Syria and the positioning of Patriots along Turkey's border, Putin made a reference to Russian Playwright and author Anton Chekhov who wrote, "If there is a loaded gun hanging on the wall during the first act of a play, it ought to be fired by the time the last curtain falls." The following are a number of questions posed and answers given by Russian president Putin during the press conference in Istanbul yesterday.
Could you comment on the humanitarian situation in Syria?
"We have talked about the issue from both a humanitarian aspect as well as others. Our position regarding these aspects is very similar. We share the same position regarding Syria's future, however we differ in our opinions of how that future will be attained," said Putin.
You are opposed to the deployment of Patriots. However, can you guarantee that Syria will not turn its weapons in Turkey?
"Syria does not have nuclear weapons, in fact they are nowhere close to even begin producing them. The Patriot system is not the best system in the world.
Chekhov says that if there is a loaded gun hung on the wall in the beginning of a play, it will have been fired by the time the curtain closes. We are not protecting the Syrian regime, nor are we acting as their attorneys.
What concerns us is Syria's future. We do not want the mistakes that have happened recently to be repeated. As you know, militants in Libya were in support of certain regimes. The end result was the death of the U.S. ambassador. We will continue working with Turkey as well as the rest of the world."
WE CANNOT MAKE ANY GUARANTEES
When asked if there was any chance of Syria attacking Turkey, Putin said, "We are not in any position to make any sort of guarantee. However, in the current situation, I don't think that Syria would stage any attack on its neighbors. There is no need to be a specialist or an intelligence officer to say this."
THIRTY MEETINGS IN TEN YEARS
Over the past decade of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan's time in office, he has had the opportunity to meet repeatedly with numerous state leaders from all over the world. However, it is an undeniable fact that certain world leaders have received precedence. Due to Turkey's special bilateral relations with certain key players in the region, Erdoğan has frequently visited with both U.S. President Barack Obama as well as Vladimir Putin. Looking back at statistics, over the past five years, Erdoğan has held 23 meetings with Obama and has met with Putin on 30 different occasions over the past decade. While some of those meetings were held face to face, others were telephone discussions.
Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev comes in third with a total of 23 meetings. Prime Minister Erdoğan also met with former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi 22 times. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also one of the leaders Erdoğan has had the pleasure of meeting up with on numerous occasions, 17 to be exact.
'ARE YOU EXERCISING?'
Vladimir Putin's trip to Turkey on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and to attend the Turkey-Russia High-Level Cooperation Council marks the first time the Russian President has embarked on a trip abroad in two months due to a back problem.
Putin's trip to Turkey yesterday is widely considered to be an indicator of the importance placed on relations with Turkey. Photographs were taken of the two leaders following their one on one meeting, after which Putin was noticeably taking special care of his injury when trying to sit down to which Erdoğan asked the Russian President via a translator, "Are you exercising?"
This is a translation of an article originally written by Mesut Er.
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