Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and Syrian PresidentBashar Assad held lengthy talks yesterday at the presidential palace in Aleppo, using the opportunity to discuss theIsrael-Palestine dispute in addition to the latest situations in Iraq and Lebanon, as well as bilateralrelations between the two countries. Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otriand the spouses of Erdoðan and Assad, Emine and Asma, were present as well.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan and Syrian President Bashar Assad heldlengthy talks yesterday at the presidential palace in Aleppo,using the opportunity to discuss the Israel-Palestine dispute in addition tothe latest situations in Iraqand Lebanon,as well as bilateral relations between the two countries.
Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri and the spouses of Erdoðan andAssad, Emine and Asma, were present as well. After the meeting between the twoleaders, no statement was released. Nevertheless, earlier in the day, EnergyMinister Hilmi Güler -- one of the Cabinet members who accompanied Erdoðanduring this visit -- told reporters that energy issues would top the agenda ofthe talks. Transporting Egyptian natural gas through Syriato Turkey as well asbuilding of "a dam of friendship" on the Asi (Orontes) River -- ariver in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey -- were the two main topicslisted by Güler.
Erdoðan's trip to the neighboring country by itself is widely beingconsidered a symbol of a new phase in relations between Ankaraand Damascus,relations that came to the brink of war almost a decade ago over theoutlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
As Today's Zaman went to press, Erdoðan was scheduled to watch a friendlymatch between the top football clubs of the two countries alongside Assad aspart of the inauguration of a new international stadium in Aleppo. Ahead of their meeting, Assad told reportersthat he would support the Turkish team while Erdoðan would support the Syrianteam during the match between Turkish league leader Fenerbahçe and Syrianfirst-division outfit Al-Ittihad. Erdoðan, who played football with amateurclubs in Ýstanbul in his youth, is actually a Fenerbahçe fan.
Several tourism companies in the southern city of Hatay,located close to the border with Syria,organized one-day tours to Syriafor the occasion. Turkish citizens who wanted to watch the match in Aleppo were able to passthe border without passports, thanks to coordination by the foreign andinterior ministries of the two countries. Since 2000, during religious holidays(bayram), people in Syriaand Turkeyno longer have to see their relatives across the border through a wire fence asboth countries have taken the necessary measures to ensure that cross-bordervisits proceed without any hassles.
In the fall of 1998, the two countries came to the brink of war over thepresence of the now-jailed leader of the terrorist PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, in Syria. At thetime, Turkish troops marshaled along the border with Syria,with Ankara demanding that Damascus cease its support for the PKK andhand over Öcalan.
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad complied immediately. Eventually Öcalan wasdeported -- and subsequently captured by Turkish Special Forces in Kenya -- and PKK training camps in Syria and Lebanon were closed down. The PKKis listed as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US as well as by Turkey.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16