Turkey and Russia agree that Syria should have an administration which allows everyone to practice their beliefs freely, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday. In remarks made in an interview to the Turkish broadcaster NTV, Cavusoglu outlined Turkey’s cooperation with Russia to resolve the Syrian conflict.
"The situation in Syria is getting worse day-by-day," he said. "We always say only a political solution [in Syria] can be permanent, in terms of not hurting civilians, separating moderate opposition from terrorist groups and [ensuring] humanitarian aid."
He said cooperation between Russia and Turkey "on politics, military and intelligence will pave the way for us to put our relations on a solid ground and help resolve problems in Syria.”
He said the next Syrian regime should be all inclusive. "We think the same as Russia on Syria's future. The next administration in Syria should be inclusive and cover everyone.” He added the next administration in Syria "should be a secular one".
"We are on the same page with Russia from old times that Syria should have an administration under which everyone can live with their beliefs freely," he said.
During President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to St. Petersburg Tuesday, Turkey and Russia agreed to establish a joint committee on Syria; members of the Turkish committee travelled to Russia on Thursday. The committee consists of military and intelligence officers and diplomats from both Russia and Turkey.
Syria’s five-year civil war has resulted in more than 500,000 deaths, according to Cavusoglu. Moscow and Ankara support different sides in the conflict, with Turkey deeply opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, of which Russia is a major backer.
Cavusoglu also said the U.S. was cooperating with Turkey on the issue of Fetullah Gulen, the U.S.-based preacher Turkey accuses of plotting the July 15 coup attempt.
“We see the cooperation signals on this issue,” he said, adding that a delegation from the U.S. Justice Department would come to Turkey soon.
“After that we are waiting for a high-level visit,” the minister said. “After the extradition file is prepared, we will go to the U.S. with the justice minister to repeat our demand with this evidence, files and information.”
About two military attaches at the Turkish embassy in Athens fleeing to Italy following their recall to Turkey in the wake of the failed coup, Cavusoglu confirmed the incident.
He said Col. Ilhan Yasitli and Col. Halis Tunc left for Italy by car and ferry with their families on the night of Aug. 6. Turkey’s ambassador to Rome was making inquiries with Italian authorities about their possible extradition