Turkey plans to normalise relations with Syria

Turkey plans to normalise relations with Syria
2 min read
02 September, 2016
Turkey's prime minister on Friday announced that his country has taken a 'serious initiative' to normalise relations with Damascus, confirming a policy shift after years of supporting Syrian rebels.
Binali Yildirim said Turkey has taken a serious initiative to normalise relations with Syria [Anadolu]

Turkey on Friday announced that it plans to normalise relations with Damascus, confirming a policy shift after years of supporting rebels opposed to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

"We have normalised our relations with Russia and Israel," Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a televised speech.

"Now, God willing, Turkey has taken a serious initiative to normalise relations with Egypt and Syria."

Relations between Turkey and Egypt sharply deteriorated after the Egyptian military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On Syria, Turkey had persistently insisted Assad's departure was key to any resolution of the country's five-year war and backed rebels trying to oust him.

But last month Yildirim signalled a shift, saying that Assad was "one of the actors" in Syria and could stay on temporarily during a transitional period.

Last week, Turkey launched an operation against Islamic State group and a Kurdish militia in northern Syria. Ankara said Damascus was forewarned of the operation, via Russia.

Since taking office in May, the Turkish premier has sought to resume Ankara's longstanding policy of having "zero problems" with its neighbours.

In June, Turkey mended ties with Russia, which were sorely tested by the shooting down by Turkey of a Russian warplane along the Syrian border.

Turkey this summer also normalised ties with Israel after a six-year rift caused by a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid flotilla.