Turkish FM Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Lavrov discuss the issue of continuing cross-border humanitarian aid to millions of Syrians in need.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (right) held a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) after meeting in Antalya, June 30, 2021.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (right) held a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) after meeting in Antalya, June 30, 2021. (AA)

Turkey is in talks with Russia and other members of the United Nations Security Council on the extension of a cross-border aid operation into war-torn Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said, less than 10 days before the mandate expires.

Millions of people depend on the humanitarian aid currently funnelled from a single border crossing in Turkey into northwest Syria, an arrangement authorised by the UN Security Council. Officials have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the mandate is not renewed. 

Speaking alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Turkish resort of Antalya on Wednesday, Cavusoglu said the mandate, which expires July 10, should be extended.

Moscow and Ankara have worked on for years, Cavusoglu said that Turkey will continue to work with Russia for peace and a political process for the war-battered country.

Ankara would continue to work with Moscow on a political solution to Syria's crisis and the maintenance of an existing ceasefire in the north, he added.

Canal Istanbul won't affect governance of straits

Turkey’s Canal Istanbul mega-project will not impact proper governing of the Turkish Straits, the Turkish FM told his Russian counterpart after bilateral talks.

The planned alternate route between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea – set for completion in 2025-2026 – will have no effect on the 1936 Montreux Agreement on the Turkish Straits, nor vice versa, Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with Lavrov.

READ MORE: UN draft resolution calls for Syrian aid through two crossings

On Libya, Cavusoglu said that the North African country’s political unity and territorial integrity are priorities that both Turkey and Russia agree on.

On last fall’s military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan – which ended in November with a Russian-brokered cease-fire – Lavrov said: “Russia wants Armenians and Azerbaijanis to live as good neighbours and urges reconciliation.”

“We appreciate the activities of the joint command centre (with Turkey) in Azerbaijan,” he added.

In 1991, the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, or Upper Karabakh, internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

Last September 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During a subsequent 44-day conflict which ended under a deal signed on November 10, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from Armenian occupation.

Tourism and vaccinations

Cavusoglu also said that Turkey proposed to Russia mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccine certifications.

“Russian citizens see Antalya as an attractive destination, and we will continue our efforts to develop relations in field of tourism,” Lavrov added about the Turkish Riviera resort.

Traditionally a top destination for Russian tourists, Turkey, like the rest of the world, last year had to shut down most tourism in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

But vastly improved coronavirus numbers in Turkey, along with a vigorous vaccination campaign and strong safety measures, have reopened the country to tourism, and Russia last week gave green light to full flight service to Turkey. 

READ MORE: The ‘Turkish Model’ is resonating in Eastern Europe, and Moscow is worried

Source: TRTWorld and agencies