Turkish, Russian presidents hold phone conversation
During the conversation, Erdogan expressed hope that the project to transform Turkiye into a gas hub could move forward as soon as possible
By News Desk - January 05 2023

(Photo credit: VOA)

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on 5 January, during which they discussed the situation in Syria and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations between Ankara and Moscow, a statement from Erdogan’s office read.

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the talks, the sides discussed Turkiye-Russia relations, especially in the energy field, and regional issues such as the Syrian, and Ukrainian crises,” the Turkish statement said.

During the conversation, Erdogan reportedly mentioned the potential project of establishing a gas hub in Turkiye to secure Europe’s energy needs by funneling Russian gas to the continent.

This comes in the wake of a crippling energy crisis facing the west due to heavy sanctions against Russia.

“President Erdogan said during the talks that Ankara has strengthened and continues to strengthen the gas hub infrastructure in Turkey and that the Turkish side is committed to completing the road map and taking concrete steps to implement it as soon as possible,” the statement went on to say.

The upcoming project involves using a pipeline beginning on Russia’s coast and running over 930 kilometers before coming ashore in the Turkish section of the Thrace region, divided between Bulgaria and Greece. The pipeline will directly link Russia’s largest gas reserves to Turkiye’s transportation infrastructure, consistently securing Turkiye, south and southeast Europe with energy.

Regarding the situation in Syria, the Turkish president also emphasized the need to “take concrete steps to eliminate the [Kurdish presence] from the areas bordering Turkiye, especially Tal Rifaat and Manbij.”

According to the statement, Erdogan also stressed the need for Damascus to be “constructive” to achieve these results. This comes as a potential, Moscow-sponsored rapprochement between Turkiye and the Syrian government is in the making.

Despite this, however, the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement has barely taken its first steps, and negotiations are unlikely to officially launch until a complete withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria is guaranteed.

Moreover, Washington is making the process more difficult by obstructing a potential agreement to allow the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to replace Kurdish militants on the border with Turkiye. Washington is doing this to prevent any “Syrian governmental attempt to advance towards the strongholds of American influence.”

Just two days ago, US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, expressed his dissatisfaction with Turkiye’s rapprochement with the Syrian government.

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