Turkey doesn’t want to be Pakistan
Russian miners aren’t liberal journalists in Paris, and their death didn’t cause a massive wave of sympathy around the world. It became especially noticeable that the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was among the first and a few foreign agencies that expressed condolences to the Russian people and the families of miners who died in a terrible accident at the mine in Vorkuta. This humane step couldn’t help surprising our readers against the background of the violent rhetoric against Turkey recently expressed in the Russian media.
But there are no anti-Russian calls in Turkey except for marginal nationalist forces. On the contrary, Turkey has a desire to reconcile with Russia and reduce the degree of confrontation. No wonder the body of the killed (by the fault of the Turkish side) Russian pilot was returned to Moscow with full military honors, a military guard and volleys.
Frankly speaking, the Russian-Turkish confrontation after the downed Russian aircraft had its positive aspects. Russia untied its hands, and without thinking about the reaction of yesterday’s ally, fully realized its military plans in the northern part of Syria. Turkey also tried to do its best without turning its back on Russia.
But a new stage of the Syrian war has started. The truce after the Russian-US talks and, in particular, the direct agreement between Presidents Putin and Obama is being maintained.
Yes, there are some violations. Over the past few days militants fired on territory under government control 14 times, but after the beginning of the truce there were more than fifty such violations.
The opposition also complains. The US ambassador to Moscow Taft met at his request with Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Bogdanov who holds a high post as the Russian president's special representative for Syria, and brought a démarche of the State Department. According to him, the Syrian army continues to shell and bomb areas where armed opposition forces are located. The demarche was expressed by the Ambassador of France who accused the Russian Airforce of bombing the "moderate opposition".
Mikhail Bogdanov reminded his American and French counterparts that the shelling of Kurds by Turkey is also continuing. This also violates the ceasefire agreement.
The truce is being maintained better than we could have expected. People came out to the bombed streets of Aleppo and the Damascus suburbs from basements. Children played in the sun again. Shops are open. Refugees near the Turkish border decided to come back. A hope for peace has revived Syria.
Russian emissaries act actively. They meet with leaders of armed groups and convince them to join the ceasefire. There are some good results on this invisible front. Many of yesterday's chieftains agree not to lay weapons not, but to put them off. They don’t believe the official representatives of Damascus, but rely on the promises by Russian officers.
In my opinion, the enmity of Turkey has exhausted its resources against this background. It is high time for diplomats to build bridges. Turkey tried to do its best, but it came to the conclusion that it won’t remove Assad. They would fail to conquer Syria by appointing a pleasing government on the basis of the 'Muslim Brotherhood'. Talk about an invasion, a breakthrough in Aleppo and calls for NATO produced no results. Turkey realized its limits.
Turks started remembering the Afghan war more often, which affected not only Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, but also Pakistan, which was a base for the Afghan militants. Pakistan hasn’t recovered since those times. Turkey plays the role of Pakistan in the Syrian war, as the main base of Islamic militants. And the Turks like it less and less.
It is necessary to use it, but not to be over-diligent. The possibilities of Russia aren’t unlimited. The American demarche showed that those who dream of a 'plan B' – failure of the truce in Syria – are still strong in the US. Now the United States is holding Turkey back, but for how long will it last?
The Russian leadership didn't waver in that dangerous moment, didn’t yield to the psychological attack of the enemy. Now the advantage is on the side of Russia. It means that the time to realize the advantage has come, but it is difficult to implement without an agreement with Turkey.
Now Turkey's goals are much more modest. They are to avoid the establishment of an independent (de-jure or de facto) Syrian Kurdistan. Russia is satisfied with this. According to the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Syrian Kurds should realize their national rights within a unified Syria. Russia condemns terrorist acts in Turkish cities. The Turks’ reasonable wishes can be met in a becalmed Syria. So there are grounds for negotiations.
Recall that there are many of those who wish to ignite the flames of war in Syria again. Thus, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons against rebels and it meant a violation of the truce. This statement was disavowed even by the Americans, and Moscow called it an unfriendly act. In fact, Russia carried out the elimination of chemical weapons and Moscow is monitoring the truce. However, this statement doesn’t prevent Russia from receiving Israeli President Ruby Rivlin. He is to arrive in Moscow on these days.
In this situation, Russia should not stop its efforts to achieve peace in Syria so that the children of Damascus and Aleppo could play outside once again. It is necessary to put aside past resentments in order to reach an agreement with the important neighbors of Syria, Russia, and Turkey.
We are told: ‘‘What about the killed pilot? Where are the apologies?" Recall that the reason for World War I started after the murder of the Austrian Archduke, and the Serbs also didn’t apologize for it. Was it worth millions of victims?