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Iraqi foreign minister looks to boost ties in Ankara

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During a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenkegi expressed on Saturday (May 5) expressed his country’s desire to expand the Ibrahim al-Khalil crossing with Iraq and to open an additional gate in Feshkhabur in northwestern Iraq. “The unity, stability, and well-being of Iraq are the stability of Turkey. Iraq is a strong economic partner of Turkey and Turkish companies account for a large percentage of foreign companies in its southern neighbor,” he said. “Turkey is hosting a forum for the reconstruction of Iraq and providing investment support. [We are also convening] meetings of the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce and the Turkish Foreign Trade Relations Commission and meetings between Iraqi banks and Turkish banks, to increase the volume of cooperation,” he said.

Baghdad took control of the Ibrahim Khalil and Feshkhabur border crossings with Turkey following law enforcement and security operations carried out in the disputed areas with the Kurdistan region in October. The 18th session of the Iraqi-Turkish Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation was held in Ankara on Saturday, during which the minutes of the meetings were signed, including the activation of the comprehensive economic partnership agreements signed in 2009, the promotion and protection of mutual investments. Additionally, they discussed the issues of water, energy, industry, agriculture, health, environment, culture, tourism, education, science, and technology, “according to Jaafari.

Iran, Russia, Turkey hold talks on Syria situation

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Moscow, Tehran and Ankara denounce attempts to divide Syria into parts as unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Saturday following a meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mevlut Cavusoglu. “We agreed that attempts to split Syria on ethnic and religious grounds were totally unacceptable,” Lavrov said after the trio meeting on Syria. The three countries have been attempting to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict at talks that started last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, in competition with the US and UN-backed Geneva initiative. “We have stated that we will counter attempts to undermine our joint efforts and pointed out that the Astana process is stable,” he said. Lavrov said the recent US-led missile strikes on Syria “seriously aggravated the situation” and that statements about supporting the territorial integrity of Syria “are only words that, apparently, cover plans for reformatting the Middle East and plans for dividing Syria into parts.”

According to him, the attack “not only significantly raised tensions on the international stage but also considerably damaged the prospects for a political settlement.” Lavrov said Russia, Turkey and Iran need to help Syria’s government clear its country of terrorists. In a joint statement, the three foreign ministers said they have agreed to increase joint efforts to help achieve “a lasting political settlement in Syria”. The ministers “agreed to increase joint efforts aimed at facilitating the achievement of a lasting political settlement in Syria envisaged by” a UN Security Council resolution and “through full use of multi-level mechanisms of the Astana format.” They also “reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of” the Syrian Arab Republic”.

Rouhani: Iran-Turkey cooperation must stop escalation of tensions in Syria

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President Hassan Rouhani said that the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey enjoy ample historical and cultural commonalities and further deepening of bilateral, regional and international relations between the two countries would be beneficial for peace and stability in the region and the world. Rouhani made the remarks in a meeting with visiting Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci in Tehran on Wednesday, the president’s official website reported. “Fortunately in recent years, relations between the two countries have been developing in all fields of mutual interest and we should continue along this path to serve both nations’ interests,” the president said. “Without a doubt, development of banking relations is very important for deepening of economic relations and ties between the private sectors,” he said.

President Rouhani said the continuation of consultation and coordination between the two countries in regional issues has an effective role in establishing sustainable peace and security in the region. The Turkish economy minister, who is visiting Iran as the head of a high-ranking economic delegation, said Turkey is determined to remove the obstacles on the path of further development of relations between the two countries and take major steps in boosting cooperation. Zeybekci added that Turkey attaches great importance to deepening of relations and cooperation with Iran in all fields and intends to further cement these ties by laying out a roadmap.

Erdogan assesses Kyrgyz-Turkish relations and their further development

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During a conference at the presidential complex with Kyrgyz counterpart Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will help in the fight against FETO, which posed “a great threat to Kyrgyzstan“ and had tried to derail Turkey-Kyrgyzstan relations. Erdogan added that the visit of President Jeenbekov is the best answer to FETO’s efforts, adding that Jeenbekov will be much more vigorous against FETO and take the necessary measures promptly. Jeenbekov said that the two presidents had “constructive and fruitful talks.

Jeenbekov said that the development of partnership relations with Turkey is the priority direction of his politics. He added that a common goal is to develop the level of high strategic business association forward and to achieve success in this area. The two countries signed some very important agreements during his visit, as the agreement in the field of social security.

Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey: trilateral meeting to discuss the peace process

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During a press conference with CEO Abdullah Abdullah, Turkish Prime Minister Binali said Turkey has suggested a trilateral meeting of officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey to discuss the peace process in Afghanistan. Afghan Executive Office has expressed optimism over the trilateral meeting and hopes the summit will reduce tensions between Kabul-Islamabad. During the visit to Kabul, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said that Turkey strongly supports the Afghan government’s efforts for peace in the country, and called on the Taliban to start dialogue with the Afghan government. Bashir Ahmad Tayenj, a Member of Parliament believes that Turkey can play a key role in Afghan peace process because is a powerful Islamic country with an effective role in regional politics. Furthermore, analysts stress on Turkey’s pressures over Pakistan to stop interfering in Afghanistan’s affairs and fight against terrorism. Turkey’s call for peace in Afghanistan comes as the Taliban still maintained its silence and has yet to formally respond to the peace offer. 

Meşelik: University shooting, 4 killed

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A research assistant at a university killed 4 people on the Meşelik campus of Eskişehir Osmangazi University at around 3:00 p.m. The research assistant, Volkan Bayar, 37, killed deputy dean Mikail Yalçın, faculty secretary Fatih Özmutlu, research assistant Yasin Armağan and lecturer Serdar Çağlak at the education faculty of the university. The university’s rector Hasan Gönen said there had already been an ongoing investigation into Bayar. Bayar had accused some academics of being a member of FETÖ and investigation was ongoing but he was on duty. The dean was probably his target. There may have been verbal discussions with the dean before. Ayşe Aypay, who had a conflict with the assailant, said they had filed a complaint about him many times and they have filed a petition to the [Education] Ministry’s Council of Higher Education [YÖK] and the presidency has retained it. The attack sparked panic at the university and university officials announced that faculty exams were canceled. Meanwhile, the assailant surrendered and was detained by police following the attack. There was no indication of the assailant’s motive, describing him as a research fellow at the university working in the education faculty. Police took him for questioning. 

Rouhani, “Syria has no military solution and should be resolved politically”

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No country has the right to decide on the future of Syria that belongs to the Syrian people, Rouhani told reporters in Ankara on Wednesday after a trilateral meeting of the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey. Maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity, national sovereignty and unity and independence should be appreciated by everyone as a major demand of the Syrian people, he added. “In view of the Islamic Republic of Iran, … Syria (crisis) has no military solution and should be resolved politically. We should all help to bring the war to an end.”

Rouhani went on to say that it would be a great celebration day for the region when the war in Syria ends, terrorists leave the region, Syrian refugees return home and the Syrian people can determine their fate and future in a free election. The Iranian president further hailed the efforts made by Iran, Russia and Turkey on the path of fighting terrorism and establishing ceasefires in Syria, including through the Astana peace talks and the trilateral summits in Sochi and Ankara.

Tripartite summit of Iran, Russia and Turkey

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After a tripartite summit in Ankara, the Turkish, Russian and Iranian presidents stressed their joint resolve to oppose separatism as well as the use of terrorism as an excuse for changing Syria. The statement followed a two-hour closed-door meeting among Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. They emphasized their strong and continued commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character. In the statement, they “expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.” The leaders “expressed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be ended only through a negotiated political process.” 

They believe in an agreement to form a Constitutional Committee, supported by the UN Secretary-General and the international community. They reiterated “the necessity to assist the Syrians in restoring the unity of their country and in achieving a political solution of the ongoing conflict through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process based on the free will of the Syrian people and leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision”. The presidents also reaffirmed their determination to continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of a lasting cease-fire. The three countries will continue cooperation in the fight against terrorism and their efforts to ensure calm on the ground and protect civilians in the de-escalation areas. They stressed that the creation of de-escalation areas was temporary as provided for under a May 2017 memorandum. The statement also took note of developments on Syria since their previous meeting last November in Sochi. 

EU to send a technical team for visa exemption

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Turkey’s EU Minister Ömer Çelik told members of the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee that EU will send a technical team to Turkey for agreement on the proposal for granting a visa exemption. The technical team to be deployed to Ankara will officially discuss the content of the Turkish proposals, which include an amendment on the anti-terror law and the data protection law. The visa liberalization process had to delay because of the problems between Ankara and Brussels. In fact, countries like Germany, Austria and Netherlands have sharpened their position against the Turkish accession, with the new government in Vienna openly calling to end accession talks. The EU minister slammed recent remarks from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who called on the EU to end accession negations with Turkey. In the meantime, the Turkish EU minister will travel to Paris on April 4 for talks with French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian and France’s EU Minister Nathalie Loiseau in Paris. During the meeting, they will talk about recent developments in Turkey-EU relations, bilateral ties, as well as regional developments. Turkey blasted Macron’s meeting with the YPG delegation at the French presidency last week, as well as his offer to mediate between Ankara and the Syrian Kurdish group. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Rouhani and Putin visit Turkey in bid to end Syria war

in DEFENCE/MIDLE EAST by

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterated their commitment to work toward achieving a sustainable cease-fire between warring sides in Syria and bringing peace and stability to the war-torn country. Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “reaffirmed their determination to continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of lasting cease-fire between the conflicting parties and advancement of the political process envisaged by UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” said a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting of the three leaders in Ankara on Wednesday. In the statement, Rouhani, Putin and Erdogan also emphasized their “strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character of Syria.”

They also stressed that there could be “no military solution” to the Syrian conflict and that the conflict could be settled only through a “negotiated political process.” The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey, whose countries act as guarantors of the Syria cease-fire, also reaffirmed their determination to continue their cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate Daesh, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or Daesh as identified by the UN Security Council and underscored the success of their collective efforts in the fight against international terrorism. Addressing the summit, Rouhani said the Syrian region of Afrin, captured by Turkish forces, should be handed over to Syria’s Army. “The developments in Afrin can only be useful if they do not violate Syria’s territorial integrity, and control of these areas should be handed over to the Syrian Army,” Rouhani said.

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