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Turkey Found an Ally in the Syrian Issue 4 novembre 2014

Posted by Acturca in France, Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie.
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BBC Monitoring European (UK)  November 4, 2014                                             Türkçe

by Sami Kohen, Milliyet

It may appear strange at first sight, but the Syria issue, which is driving Turkey further away from the United States and the coalition countries, is bringing Turkey closer to France. This is the same France that until recently opposed the policies pursued by Turkey on several issues and seemed like a rival of Turkey.

Now, however, the ice between the two countries is melting and the relations are warming up. This is the main outcome of the meeting held by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with French President Francois Hollande in Paris.

The main focus of their talks (and this was the essential goal of Erdogan’s one-day visit to Paris) was the Syrian crisis and, in this context, the serious threat posed by the ISIL for the region.

Turkey has its own specific position with regard to this crisis. Frankly, Ankara’s basic views on this subject are not shared by the United States and the coalition led by the United States.

The talks in Paris, however, demonstrated that Turkey and France share similar views on this issue.

In other words, Turkey, which has been isolated with regard to the Syrian and ISIL crisis, has found itself an ally.

Turkey’s Wish

The following two views constitute the basis of Turkey’s position, which it has not been able to persuade many of its allies, especially the United States, and other countries like Russia and Iran that are closely interested in the Syrian issue, to accept:

First, the solution of the Syrian problem, alongside the ISIL issue, is possible only through the exclusion of the Al-Asad regime. Second, it is essential to establish safe havens and no-fly zones in north Syria within the framework of the struggle against the ISIL.

With regard to the first matter, at this stage the United States and the coalition have identified the ISIL, and not Al-Asad, as their priority target. As for the second matter, the West does not favour the establishment of safe havens and no-fly zones. Naturally, Russia and the others are also opposed to this.

Given this situation, the fact that France adopted a position close to Turkey’s views and wishes on both matters is very important.

France’s Support

To what extent the support accorded by France would change the « situation in the field » in practice along the lines of Turkey’s expectations is another matter. At the very least, however, Ankara is now pleased to see Paris on its side with regard to its views and wishes.

If we recall that, especially during the Sarkozy term, France considered Turkey a rival in several regional issues (ranging from the Middle East to the Caucasus) and acted against it, we can better understand the extent of the distance covered by French diplomacy in favour of Turkey.

Naturally, the fact that France considers adopting such a stance necessary for its own interests plays a great role in this. France also wants to play a more active role in the face of the developments in Syria and the region, and finds it beneficial to bring this about by cooperating with Turkey in certain areas.

The fact that the crisis in the region, including Syria, has caused a rapprochement between the two NATO allies, which had grown apart for a while, will probably activate the bilateral relations in other fields as well.

Source: Milliyet website, Istanbul, in Turkish 4 Nov 14

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