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05.03.2020 00:12 News >> Erdogan Seeking Urgent Idlib Cease-Fire On Russia Visit

Erdogan Seeking Urgent Idlib Cease-Fire On Russia Visit

Turkish president due in Moscow Thursday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Russia aims to reach an immediate cease-fire in Syria's restive province of Idlib, Turkey's presidential spokesman said Wednesday.
"On the way to Moscow, our main aim is immediate cease-fire within the framework of the Idlib agreement we signed with the Russian Federation," Ibrahim Kalin told a press conference following a Cabinet meeting in capital Ankara.
Noting that Ankara has comprehensive relations with Russia, Kalin said that Turkey wishes to reach an agreement under a common understanding especially on Idlib, however, Turkey's position is "absolutely clear" on the issue.
Erdogan is due in Moscow on Thursday.
Kalin reiterated that Turkey is not in Syria for territorial gains, but to pave the way for a political process and to protect the civilians.
Kalin went on to say that for the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees the condition on ground has to be favorable.
Turkey recently launched Operation Spring Shield in Idlib after an attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime martyred 34 Turkish soldiers.
Migrant crisis
Criticizing the European Union for its double standards, he noted that urgent aid was sent to 100,000 asylum-seekers in Greece, while ignoring nearly four million refugees in Turkey.
"Actually, this crisis did not break out the last week or the last month. Our president has repeatedly stated in recent years that the crisis has reached a point that cannot be handled anymore," Kalin said.
He noted that despite Erdogan's statements, the European countries ignored the situation as the refugees were not at their door and they are in panic situation after Turkey opened its border gates.
"If there is no share of burden, everybody's burden will increase," he said.
Kalin said Turkey's efforts so far have prevented irregular migration to Europe, however, the country also has a limit to its capacity.
Idlib has been a stronghold of the opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
In September 2018, Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement in Sochi, Russia, to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by the Syrian regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.
Erdogan recently condemned the regime attacks on civilians and Turkish troops in Idlib.
Last week, Turkey opened its borders sending a wave of asylum-seekers to Europe, saying the EU has failed to keep its side of a 2016 refugee deal. -



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