Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says his country aims to develop good relations with Syria and Iraq.



Yildirim’s comments during a live broadcast on television on Wednesday came as he was speaking about the need for Turkey to boost its diplomatic ties in the region.


Since taking office in May, Yildirim has repeatedly said that Turkey needs to “increase its friends and decrease its enemies,” an apparent tacit admission that past policies have left Ankara sidelined.

“It is our greatest and irrevocable goal: Developing good relations with Syria and Iraq, and all our neighbors that surround the Mediterranean and the Black Sea,” Yildirim said.

The apparent change of policy comes in the wake of recent Turkish efforts to warm relations with Russia which is a key supporter of the Syrian government.

“We normalized relations with Russia and Israel. I’m sure we will normalize relations with Syria as well,” Yildirim said.

Turkey has long been a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allowing militants to freely slip into the Arab country through its borders.

Yildirim said, “For the fight against terrorism to succeed stability needs to return to Syria and Iraq.”

Turkey has recently been hit by a series of bombings blamed on Daesh which has established a network across the border in Syria.

Turkey severed diplomatic relations with Syria after the foreign-backed conflict began in the Arab country in 2011. Since then, Ankara has been supporting militants fighting to topple President Assad.

The policy has put Turkey on a collision course with Syria’s Muslim allies such as Iran and Iraq as well as with Russia.

Diplomatic relations with Moscow nosedived after Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian bomber on the Syrian border in November.

Ankara has moved to repair frayed relations with Moscow recently, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdgoan calling his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident.

Russian sanctions imposed on Ankara after the downing hit Turkey’s struggling tourism industry hard.

Moreover, some 2.75 million Syrian refugees are currently living in Turkey, placing pressure on the country’s resources and dividing public opinion.

Turkey is also threatened by Kurdish militants mostly based in the areas near its borders with Iraq.

In recent weeks, Iraqi armed forces have been making steady advances against militants, pushing the battle to the ultimate goal to recapture Mosul.

Likewise, the Syrian army is gaining ground against Takfiri militants in Aleppo and elsewhere, further quashing long-held assumptions that the government in Damascus might be on course to fall.

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