Speaking at a joint press conference with President Putin of the Russian Federation, President Erdoğan said, "Following our discussions, we agreed to form a demilitarized zone between the opposition and the regime-controlled areas."

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is in the Russian city of Sochi for a working visit, held a joint press conference with President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation following their tête-à-tête and the meeting between the delegations.

"Mr. Putin and I had the opportunity to discuss the Syrian issue during the Trilateral Summit in Tehran," President Erdoğan recalled, adding that, as Turkiye, they clearly expressed their concerns in Tehran. President Erdoğan further stressed, "We had the opportunity to discuss how we could put the agreement we reached in Tehran into effect on the ground."

Underlining that they covered quite a distance during the bilateral meeting and the one between the delegations in terms of finding a way out in Idlib which respects the mutual concerns of Turkiye and Russia, President Erdoğan said, "I once again saw that I am in agreement with Putin regarding the resolution of the Idlib issue on the basis of an approach that befits the Astana spirit."

President Erdoğan continued, "Following our discussions within this framework, we agreed to form a demilitarized zone between the opposition and the regime-controlled areas. The opposition will remain in the areas they are currently in. In return, we will ensure that the radical groups, which we will determine with Russia, will not operate in the area in question. Russia will take the necessary measures to prevent attacks on the Idlib de-escalation zone. We will also ensure together the detection and prevention of both provocations by third parties and violations of the agreement reached. To this end, Russia and Turkiye will conduct coordinated patrols on both sides of the borders of the demilitarized zone, which will be determined. Turkiye will also fortify its observation posts that are still in Idlib de-escalation zone. I believe that with this agreement, we have prevented a great humanitarian crisis in Idlib."

Underlining that Turkiye will continue to do its part regarding Idlib issue, as it has done since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, President Erdoğan added, "This agreement is an important gain for Turkiye not to face new burdens as well as for other countries that are a party to the issue, first and foremost Russia."

"I, during our talk, also pointed out that the areas where terrorists operate in the Syrian territory are not limited to Idlib," President Erdoğan stated, and noted, "The actual organization which targets Syria’s territorial integrity and threatens Turkiye’s national security is the PYD/YPG. Massacres and acts of ethnic cleansing committed by this organization in the east of the Euphrates are evident."

Highlighting that the biggest threat to Syria’s future comes not from Idlib but from these terrorist hotbeds in the east of the Euphrates, President Erdoğan said, "First these terror quagmires must be drained. We have taken major steps in this direction with operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch. We have cleared over 4 thousand sq. km. area of DAESH and PKK terrorists. And we helped our Syrian brothers and sisters safely return to these areas. It is of importance to take similar steps in other areas, controlled by the PYD/YPG terrorist organization."

President Erdoğan continued as follows: "We, as Turkiye and Russia, desire that a solution be found to the Syrian crisis on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We will continue our cooperation to this end. In this regard, we discussed the results of the meeting in Geneva on the Constitutional Committee between the Astana guarantors and the UN Special Envoy on Syria. Obviously, our goal is firstly to ensure a constitution is formed, then, democratic elections are held there and finally, the Syrian people have their own actual democratic administration. We have agreed on accelerating our efforts to finalize the formation of the committee as soon as possible."

Pointing out that the main elements that define the Turkish-Russian relations are shared interests, mutual respect and being good neighbors, President Erdoğan concluded his speech as follows, "We have taken many steps on that basis so far but we think they are insufficient. We will continue to work to further improve our cooperation in the upcoming period. I thank Mr. Putin for the hospitality extended to me and my delegation, and wish that the steps we have taken today will lead to auspicious outcomes, particularly for the Syrian people."

President Putin of the Russian Federation, for his part, stated that Russia and Turkiye work in close cooperation regarding the situation in Syria, and drew attention to the joint work they carry out on a ceasefire and on the betterment of the living conditions of the people in the region.

Citing the agreement, they reached and the decisions they took on the Idlib region, President Putin said, "Russia and Turkiye reiterated their resolution on the anti-terror fight in Syria. And as far as we are concerned, implementation of the decisions, which were taken, will contribute to the consolidation and acceleration of the solution process in Syria, stepping up of the talks in Geneva and installation of peace in Syria." (ILKHA)

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