ANKARA : Türkiye has always backed a political solution to the Syrian conflict, the Turkish foreign minister said on Tuesday.
“The (Syrian) regime does not believe in a political solution, it believes in a military solution. A permanent solution is a political solution. We’ve been saying it from the beginning,” Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics in the capital Ankara.
Türkiye believes that reconciliation is essential for lasting peace in Syria, Cavusoglu said, adding that Ankara strongly supports Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Cavusoglu said it is not the first time that the regime and the opposition in Syria came together. “We have made a very important contribution to this. Why? Because the opposition trusts us. We have never let the opposition down. We say that this reconciliation is essential for lasting peace and stability in Syria.”
About a recent attempt to burn the Turkish flag in northern Syria, Cavusoglu said: “We know who the perpetrators are. The hand of those who reach out to our flag will also be broken. The Syrians themselves have already made the necessary explanations, including the interim government. They also know these provocateurs.”
Earlier, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced that two people were arrested following the incident.
Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
UN estimates show that more than 8 million Syrians have either been internally displaced or become refugees in other countries since 2011.
Regarding the PKK terrorist group, Cavusoglu said: “There is a terrorist organization in Syria that also threatens us: PKK/PYD/YPG. (They are) same terrorist organization. These terrorists and the remnants of Daesh and other radical terrorist organizations must be completely cleared from this country.”
This is important for Türkiye’s safety and Syria’s stability, he added.
Grain exports from Ukraine
About the grain exports from Ukrainian ports under a historic deal between Türkiye, UN, Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu said the agreement is being implemented without any problems so far.
“We will continue our efforts to keep the process going,” he added.
On July 22, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal in Istanbul to reopen three Ukrainian Black Sea ports for exporting Ukrainian grain stuck due to the Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.
To oversee the process, the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul was officially launched on July 27, comprising representatives from the three countries and the UN to enable safe transportation of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers by merchant ships.
Since the first departure on Aug. 1, a total of 21 ships carrying grain and wheat have so far left Ukrainian ports under the historic deal.
Rinkevics, for his part, said exporting grain from Ukraine is not only important for the region but also for the world. He added that Latvia will continue its cooperation in this regard.
He said Latvia strongly supports Ukraine in the war against Russia, saying: “We must stop Russian aggression.”
Relations with Latvia
Cavusoglu said Ankara and Riga enjoy “fruitful” relations, adding the two countries attach importance to political dialogues to enhance bilateral cooperation.
“We are also making efforts to improve our economic relations. Therefore, despite the pandemic, our bilateral trade volume increased by about 50% last year. When we look at the first six months of this year, this increase continues.”
He noted that Latvian tourists choose Türkiye for holiday, and said: “The fact that Latvian tourists continue to come to our country and the numbers increase is beneficial for both sides.”
Rinkevics, for his part, said Türkiye is a “valuable ally” of Latvia.
There is potential to enhance economic cooperation between Ankara and Riga, the minister added.— AA