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Erdogan's ally to visit Damascus, hold talks with Assad later this month: Report

The chairman of Turkey’s left-wing and nationalist Patriotic Party, Dogu Perincek (Photo by Anadolu Gazete newspaper)

The chairman of Turkey’s left-wing Patriotic Party is slated to visit neighboring Syria, where he is scheduled to meet and hold talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a sign that Ankara is mulling over mending fences with Damascus.

The two countries downgraded their relations after the foreign-sponsored conflict broke out in the Arab country. 

The Turkish service of the state-funded British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Dogu Perincek, a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will travel to the Syrian capital Damascus within next 10 to 15 days.

He will be accompanied by Turkish businessman Ethem Sancak, who is considered to have close ties with Erdogan and who recently joined the Patriotic Party.

Secretary General of the Patriotic Party, Ozgur Bursali, also told private Turkish nationwide TV channel Ulusal Kanal that Perincek and Sancak will meet with Assad later this month at the head of a Turkish delegation.

“Within the next 10 to 15 days, the Patriotic Party members will visit Syria under the presidency of Doğu Perinçek, and will hold high-level talks there in Syria. We will announce the details in the coming days. The Patriotic Party has been in contact with Syria for a long time,” Bursali said.

“We will hold an important meeting in order to improve relations to the level of cooperation at all levels, especially in the field of economy and Turkey's security concerns," he added.

Bursali emphasized that the Turkey-Syria cooperation will change the balance of the world, adding that Perincek had met with Assad back in 2015.

On Monday, the leader of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) gave support to the recent statement by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who had suggested his country’s plan to repair relations with Syria.

“Turkey’s steps toward Syria are valuable and accurate. No one living in this country, regardless of their origin or sect, is [an outsider] or the enemy of our country,” Devlet Bahceli said in a written statement.

He emphasized that Syrians are brothers of the Turkish people, and have strong ties based on history, culture and faith.

Addressing the 13th Ambassadors Conference in the capital Ankara on August 11, Cavusoglu stated that he had a brief conservation with his Syrian counterpart Faisal al-Mekdad on the sidelines of the two-day Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade last October.

The top Turkish diplomat stressed the need for reconciliation between opposition groups and the Damascus government, stating that there will be no lasting peace in the war-ravaged country until such an ideal is achieved.

“There must be a powerful government in place to prevent the partition of Syria, and there must be an administration that can control the country’s entire territories. This can only be attained through unity,” Cavusoglu said.

Earlier this year, Turkish media reported that Ankara was evaluating the possibility of starting talks with the Syrian government and that discussions were underway for new relations to be built between the two neighbors.

Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, citing informed sources, asserted on April 4 that discussions were taking place in Ankara on restoring normal relations.

“The balanced policy recently adopted by Turkey and the role that Ankara has played in recent months, especially in resolving the war in Ukraine, have made the current time appropriate for resolving the Syrian crisis,” the Turkish daily said.

Citing the sources, the paper said the already existing relations between Damascus and Ankara can be improved and that the current situation may open a new door of opportunities for Turkey, especially for resolving the Syrian issue and the question of Kurdish militants stationed in border areas.

Turkey has deployed forces in Syria in violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019 after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push YPG fighters away from border areas.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Assad and other senior officials have said Damascus will respond through all legitimate means available to Turkey's ongoing ground offensive.

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