Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks to the media, in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. Cavusoglu has called on NATO to support Turkey’s security concerns, accusing allies of backing Baltic countries’ security concerns but dismissing threats to Turkey from Syrian Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that a summit between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could take place as early as next month in May, according to TV100.
However, the foreign minister also specifically mentioned that it was a “proposal” during the interview with the TV channel and that if it were to take place, the presidents of Iran and Russia would join the summit ahead of the Turkish elections. The Turkish minister said that work is ongoing and that the exact date has not been finalized.
Cavusoglu gave the interview on Tuesday, 25 April, ahead of the four-way meeting between the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Russia, Iran, Syria, and Turkiye.
Nevertheless, Cavusoglu made similar claims earlier this month, which were denied by the Syrian government as long as its conditions of a complete Turkish withdrawal from Syrian territory are not met.
The Turkish foreign minister also reiterated his country’s position to continue its “counter-terrorism” operations in northern Iraq and Syria, according to a report published by the Daily Sabah on 25 April.
“Turkiye’s exit from the region would create a power vacuum that terrorists would rush to fill,” Cavusoglu claimed during the TV interview.
In addition, on 6 December, Orhan Miroglu, the head of the Justice and Development Party, reported that Damascus turned down Ankara’s proposal to set up a meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Al-Mayadeen reported.
Syria has accused Turkiye of backing terrorism by supporting several extremist armed militias and launching repeated military incursions into northern Syria since the start of the war in 2011.
Syria and Turkiye held their first high-level bilateral meeting since the start of the Syrian war in 2011. The meeting took place in Moscow on 28 December, 2022. The summit was brokered by the Russian government, which brought the two sides together to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
At the time, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan met with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas and intelligence chief Hossam Luke.
The meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkiye, Russia, and the Syrian government was scheduled in February as a result of conversations that took place in January. However, due to Iran’s wish to join, the meeting was postponed indefinitely. The earthquake that struck on February 6 and had an impact in both Turkiye and Syria added to the delay.