President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
We thank the President of Turkey for accepting our offer made during a recent telephone conversation, and today he and representatives of his delegation arrived in Sochi to discuss the developments in the Syrian Arab Republic, including in the northeast, beyond the Euphrates.
Mr Erdogan gave a detailed explanation of the goals of the Turkish military operation along the Syrian border. We have noted many times that we understand Turkey’s desire to take measures that would guarantee its national security.
We share Turkey’s concerns about the growing threat of terrorism and ethnic and religious disputes in that region. We believe these disputes and separatist sentiments have been fueled artificially from the outside.
It is important to prevent members of terrorist organisations, such as ISIS, whose militants have been taken prisoners by Kurd military groups and try to break free, from taking advantage of the actions of the Turkish military units.
Syria must be liberated from illegal foreign military presence. We believe that the only way to achieve strong and long-lasting stability in Syria is to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. This is our principled position, and we have discussed it with the President of Turkey.
It is important that our Turkish partners share this approach. The Turks and the Syrians will have to protect peace on the border together, which would be impossible without mutually respectful cooperation between the two countries.
In addition to this, a broad dialogue between the Syrian government and the Kurds living in northeastern Syria must be launched. It is clear that all the rights and interests of the Kurds as an integral part of the multi-ethnic Syrian nation can only be fully considered and fulfilled via such an inclusive dialogue.
Of course, during our talks with the President of Turkey, we discussed further steps to promote the peaceful political process in Syria, which the Syrians will conduct within the Constitutional Committee in cooperation with the United Nations.
The guarantors of the Astana format have meticulously worked on it for many years.
We believe the situation on the ground must not prevent the long-awaited launch of the committee in Geneva next week – October 29–30.
Naturally, we also discussed humanitarian issues. We consider it necessary to continue helping Syrian refugees to return home, which will substantially alleviate the socioeconomic burden shouldered by the countries that agreed to take in Syrians. First and foremost this applies to the Republic of Turkey.
We urge the international community, primarily relevant UN agencies, to be more active in rendering humanitarian aid to all Syrians going home, without any discrimination, politicisation and preconditions. We also used today’s meeting to discuss current bilateral issues.
We noted with satisfaction our growing trade. Last year it increased by 16 percent. We exchanged views on what to do in the near future and expressed confidence that the implementation of the agreements on settlements and payments in national currencies signed in early October will also facilitate the further growth of trade.
We spoke about an important document that provides not only for more active use of the ruble and lira but also broader acceptance of the Russian Mir cards in Turkey and the connection of Turkish banks and companies to the Bank of Russia’s financial messaging system. I believe this is yet another step forward on expanding tourist exchanges.
We spoke about the whole package of our relations, including major projects that we are actively and successfully developing. We are also deepening our military-technical cooperation. I would like to note that cross-years of culture and tourism are held with success in Russia and Turkey.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the President of Turkey and all our friends and colleagues for a business-like and sincere conversation. We intend to further develop our cooperation in all areas on the principles of neighbourliness and respect for each other’s interests.
I am pleased to say that as a result of lengthy and intensive work we managed to make decisions that the foreign ministers of our countries will voice after our statements.
I think these decisions are very important, if not historic, and will allow us to settle the fairly acute situation on the Syrian-Turkish border.
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After the presidents of Russia and Turkey made statements for the press, the foreign ministers of the two countries read out the text of the memorandum of understanding adopted following the Russian-Turkish talks. Read it here