SOCHI, October 22. /TASS/. Talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have allowed the leaders to reach pivotal decisions on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a press conference following his talks with the Turkish leader.
"I cannot but express satisfaction with the fact that as a result of rather long and arduous work [we] managed to achieve agreements, which will be voiced after our statements by foreign ministers of both countries that, I believe, are very important, if not momentous, and will help to resolve the complicated situation on the Syrian-Turkish border," Putin said.
According to him, Russia and Turkey believe that it is necessary to assist Syrian refugees in their return to their homeland, which will tangibly alleviate social and economic burden on countries that hosted the refugees. "We are calling on the international community, especially the relevant UN agencies, to provide more active humanitarian cooperation to all returning Syrians without discrimination, politicization or preconditions," he underlined.
Launch of Constitutional Committee
The situation in northeast Syria should not block the launch of the Constitutional Committee, Vladimir Putin stressed following talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We proceed form the fact that the situation on the ground should not prevent the long-awaited launch of the [Constitutional] Committee next week, October 29-30, in Geneva," he said.
Putin noted that during the talks with his Turkish counterpart "further steps were discussed in advancing peaceful political process in Syria, which Syrians themselves will advance in the framework of the Constitutional Committee with the UN assistance." The Russian leader recalled that "guarantors of the Astana peace process were patiently working on its creation <…> for many years."
On September 23, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced creation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. Later, UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen announced that the committee would hold its first meeting in Geneva in late October.
The decision to set up a constitutional committee was agreed on at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, held in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on January 30, 2018. According to the plan proposed by former UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (Pedersen’s predecessor), the committee is made up of 150 people, 50 delegates to be fielded by Damascus, opposition and civil societies each. Each group is also obliged to name 15 experts to take part in meetings held in Geneva behind closed doors.
Syria's territorial integrity
Both Turkey and Russia support Syrian territorial integrity, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on the outcomes of the talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"In general, stable and long-term stabilization in Syria can only be reached if the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are adhered to. This is our principal position, and we have discussed it with the Turkish president," Putin said. "Most importantly, our Turkish partners share this approach."
Turkey's goals in Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has explained the goals and objectives of the Turkish operation in Syria to the Russian president during their talks, the latter noted.
"Mr. Erdogan has given a detailed explanation regarding the goals and objectives of the Turkish military operation along the border with Syria," the Russian leader said.
Vladimir Putin has thanked his Turkish colleague for "responding to the offer made during the recent phone call and arriving in Sochi with a representative delegation to discuss the events currently underway in the Syrian Arab Republic, namely, in the northeastern part of the country."
"We have repeatedly noted that we understand Turkey’s determination to take steps aimed to guarantee its national security," Putin said.
The talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders lasted for over six hours.
Holding back terrorists
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that it is vital to prevent terrorists from taking advantage of actions undertaken by the Turkish Armed Forces in northeast Syria.
"It is important that members of terrorist organizations, particularly the Islamic State, whose militants are imprisoned by Kurdish armed forces and are trying to escape, do not take advantage of actions of the Turkish Armed Forces," Putin said following talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We share concerns of the Turkish side raised in light of escalating threat of terrorism and expanding religious conflicts in this region," the Russian leader emphasized, adding that "these conflicts and separatist sentiments have been artificially fueled at the hands of third parties lately."
"Illegal" foreign military presence
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called to free Syria from illegal foreign military presence. "Syria should be liberated from illegal foreign military presence," Putin stressed.
He also underlined that Turkey and Russia share a unanimous opinion that Syria’s territorial integrity should be preserved. "We believe that achieving a lasting and long-term stabilization in Syria is only possible if Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are observed. This is a principled position and we have talked about this with the Turkish President at length," Putin said, adding that "it is important that Turkish partners share this approach."
"Turks and Syrians will have to defend peace and tranquility on the border together and you cannot do without mutually respectful cooperation between Turkey and Syria here," the Russian president pointed out. Moreover, Putin believes that "a broad dialogue between the Syrian government and Kurds leaving in northeast Syria should be launched." "It is clear that it is in the framework of this inclusive dialogue that all rights and interests of the Kurdish people — Kurds as an inseparable part of the multiethnic Syrian nation — can be fully accounted for and honored," Putin emphasized.