Turkey Agreement With Russia

The agreement between Turkey and Russia on a ceasefire in the Syrian province of Idlib does not require Ankara to change its refugee policy, he said on Thursday. Turkey cannot afford to repeat this costly crisis, much less a military conflict with a nuclear power, but it has a strong negotiating position. Moscow needs Ankara as a partner in a Syrian colony and the supply routes of its troops in Syria are above the Turkish route. Putin discussed the situation in Idlib with European Council chief Charles Michel, who met Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday. The Kremlin said Michel had informed Putin of the EU`s efforts to block the influx of migrants. The EU, in cooperation with Turkey and not against Turkey, should take the necessary measures to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Today`s agreement showed that the diplomacy of the draft was in place. Russia has chosen to accept not to sacrifice our multidimensional relations to the ambitions and whims of the regime. The foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey said Thursday`s agreement would allow us to implement a ceasefire from midnight along existing battle lines. The agreement also provides for the establishment of a 12-kilometre security corridor along the M4 motorway, which will be jointly patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops from 15 March. Russia, which has been militarily supporting the Syrian government since 2015, initially avoided participating in the conflict, apparently to avoid an escalation with Ankara. But on Monday, it resumed the battle, helped Syria retake the strategic town of Saraqeb and deployed its military police to prevent Turkish reprisals.

Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute, said the agreement “freezes the conflict on the ground.” On 9 March, Mr Erdogan travelled to Brussels to meet with EU officials, but the visit did not produce the desired result. So far, the EU appears to have only committed itself to rhetorical support, intelligence-sharing and possibly partial financial support and a revision of the 2016 Turkey-EU refugee agreement. In other words, Turkey is largely alone in Idlib. Despite the agreed ceasefire, Turkey reserves “the right to return the favor to any attack” by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s troops, Erdogan has warned. Unlike the fight for Aleppo, Moscow does not need Tehran in Idlib and has discussed it. This has angered the Iranian leadership, who will probably spoil the Russian-Turkish agreement by provoking the Turkish side. Turkey will probably react to the provocations, no doubt with russia`s agreement. Idlib, just above Turkey`s southern border, falls into a de-escalation zone defined in late 2018 in an agreement between Turkey and Russia. The Turkish Parliament voted this month to send a mission to “create a common centre with Russia and carry out the activities of the centre.” While Turkey welcomed Putin`s condolences for the martyrdom of Turkish troops in a regime attack last week, the sources said that Erdogan had made clear Turkey`s position that the country would eliminate elements of the Idlib regime on its own if there was no agreement. “The agreement between Turkey and Russia does not prevent the United States and the EU from supporting Turkey. Confidence-building measures, such as the use of air defence systems and the exchange of information, should be taken.

Let us not forget that more than 3 million civilians are still stranded in a small area of Idlib. The risk of irregular migration from the region continues. European countries should not give Russia the opportunity to use migrants as weapons against European democracies.