Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, after what has been a whirlwind day for the Russian President. Earlier he met with Persident al-Assad in Syria and President el-Sisi in Egypt.
During the press conference, both Putin and Erdogan spoke of their positive feelings regarding a sharp increase in bilateral trade between the two nations.
Both leaders also praised the recovery of Turkey’s tourist industry which is heavily reliant on Russians.
Russia’s bilateral relations with Turkey, include an agreement whereby Russian experts will construct what will be Turkey’s first ever nuclear power plant. Both leaders expressed their positive views on this while President Putin also spoke highly of the progress made on the Turk Strem gas pipeline which will deliver Russian natural gas to both Turkey and Europe.
Both Presidents also condemned the US decision to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem/al-Quds as the Israeli capital.
Erdogan said that the US “…provoked indignation among both Muslims, Christians and Jews as well.
He continued, saying,
“This reckless move created the situation which we see today….Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and currently around three thousand Palestinians have been injured”.
Erdogan went on to accuse Israel of “furling the conflict” and said that Palestinians “…cannot ignore these crimes–these atrocities”.
The Turkish President also expressed hope that tomorrow’s meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to be held in Turkey will produce a “strong statement on that matter”.
Erdogan further stated,
“Mr. Putin and I have a very similar approach to that matter (Palestine)…we will continue our contacts”.
The Russian President said of the US decision regarding Palestine,
“(It) Is not helping to resolve the problem in the Middle East. Instead it destabilises a very complicated situation and can wipe out all positive developments on that track”.
Putin affirmed that only a mutually agreed upon solution regarding the status of Jerusalem/Al-Quds which is sanctioned by the United Nations will be acceptable to Russia. The fact that Erdogan associated his own strong position for Palestine with that of Russia, is an indication that Turkey, like Palestine and Syria, now views Russia as a respected power broker in the region.
Both Presidents thanked each other for efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict via the Astana format. They also expressed high hopes for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be held in Sochi next year.
It would appear that Russia and Turkey are close to resolving disputes regarding the status of Kurdish militants at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. Russia has recently increased contacts with Kurdish groups in Syria, thus providing a moderating influence that Turkey may well ultimately deem to be acceptable.
While Turkey has lost trust in the US over a host of issues, including the Kurdish question in the region, it would appear that Ankara’s trust in Russia continues to build, as Russia seeks to find a mutually acceptable solution for all legitimate parties involved in the peace process.
It has also been widely rumoured that President Putin has been quietly trying to orchestrate a rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara behind the scenes. Nothing regarding this subject was mentioned, but President Putin did state at his press conference, that he spoke with President al-Assad of Syria, just this morning, about Russia’s hopes for progress via the Astana peace process.
The press conference was held at a tense time, as Israel announced a fresh attack on Gaza and Palestinian groups as well as the Lebanese party Hezbollah called for a united resistance against Israeli occupation of Palestine.
At such a time, it is all but certain that Putin and Erdogan had intense conversations about the matter away from the cameras. Erdogan has been incredibly vocal about his support for Palestine and in spite of the many conflicts between Erdogan’s AKP and the Kemalist opposition CHP, just today CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said he would support Erdogan if he makes good on his threat to cut ties with Tel Aviv.
Russia’s role is increasingly that of a wider regional mediator in major Middle Eastern disputes, including the Israel-Palestine conflict. Few people know exactly how countries as wide ranging as Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon will ultimately react to Trump’s move, but if anyone in the world has an idea, this man is clearly the Russian President.
Russia’s steadfast but unemotional condemnation of Trump’s declaration, looks to assure the wider Middle East in a time of clear anger over an aggressive and provocative move by Washington.