First Published: 2017-11-13

Putin, Erdogan meet in Russia
Syria dominates agenda in meeting between two leaders on opposite sides of conflict, Russian president says relationship restored to ‘almost its full capacity’.
Middle East Online

The pair last met in Ankara in September, when they agreed to push for the creation of a "de-escalation" zones in Syria

SOCHI - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi on Monday, with efforts to bring peace to Syria set to dominate the agenda at the Black Sea Resort.

Despite being on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane.

"Our relationship has been restored almost to its full capacity," Putin said ahead of the talks, adding that he was glad to see the Turkish leader.

"I am sure our meeting today will be very effective," Erdogan said.

"The main talking point will be the situation in Syria -- the functioning of de-escalation zones and the continuation of the process of political settlement," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said ahead of the meeting.

The pair last met in Ankara in September, when they agreed to push for the creation of a "de-escalation" zone in Syria's key northern province of Idlib, in addition to others already proposed.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Moscow's military intervention in Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict.

Turkey, however, has backed the rebels seeking Assad's ouster.

- 'Mutual need' -

Moscow and Ankara have supported negotiations in Kazakhstan's capital Astana from the start of the year, which have run parallel to talks taking place in Geneva with the backing of the United Nations.

Alexei Malashenko, director of research at the Dialogue of Civilizations institute, said Putin and Erdogan had a "mutual need".

"Russia, which is in a very difficult position (in Syria), simply cannot lose allies there -- they can't even lose partners, let alone allies," he said.

Meanwhile Erdogan is dissatisfied with the West's attitude towards him, Malashenko said, pointing to a deal Ankara has signed to buy S-400 air defence systems from Russia.

The deal, reportedly worth $2 billion (1.7 billion euros), has shocked Turkey's NATO allies.

Malashenko said the economy could also be on the agenda at the talks, as Turkey seeks to regain a leading role in the construction business in Russia.

"It's a meeting of two charismatic people, two people with a very high opinion of themselves, two leaders," Malashenko added, stressing the strength of the presidents' personal relationship.

An apparent agreement at the last talks between Putin and Erdogan saw the release of two leading Crimean Tatar activists who had been sentenced by Russian authorities for their political activities in the peninsula annexed from Ukraine.

Erdogan has pledged to support Crimea's Turkish-speaking Tatar minority.

Russia and Turkey have a record of struggling to overcome a regional rivalry that goes back to the Ottoman Empire and the Romanov dynasty.

Ties between the two countries went through their worst crisis since the end of the Cold War when the Turkish air force shot down a Russian war plane over Syria in November 2015.

 

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks

Turkish opposition daily web editor sentenced to 3 years in jail

Israeli police arrest 33 in ultra-Orthodox draft riots

Turkish lira at new low against US dollar

Islamic republic declares end of Islamic State

Assad in Russia for talks with Putin

UN chief horrified by Libya slave auctions

Qatar 2022 chief has no regrets over hosting World Cup

Gheit says Lebanon should be 'spared' from regional tensions

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies push for unity against Iran, Hezbollah meddling

Syria ‘de-escalation zone’ does nothing to stop civilian deaths

Is a demilitarised Palestinian state a viable option?

S&P affirms good Saudi credit ratings

Israel president faces big backlash over Palestinian scarf

Sudan leader to visit Russia Thursday

Seven years into Libya’s civil war, the chaos continues