Turkey aims to develop good relations with Syria and Iraq, and both countries need to be stable for counter-terrorism efforts to succeed, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said today.
Turkey has long been one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's staunchest opponents, arguing that only his departure could stabilise Syria. The stance set it at odds with Assad's ally Russia and distanced it from a US-led coalition more focused on fighting Islamic State.
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 neighbours that surround the Mediterranean and the Black Sea," Yildirim said, in comments broadcast live on television.
"We normalised relations with Russia and Israel. I'm sure we will normalise relations with Syria as well. For the fight against terrorism to succeed stability needs to return to Syria and Iraq," he said.
Turkey last month announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel after a six-year rupture and expressed regret to Russia over the downing of a warplane, seeking to mend strained alliances. Officials have insisted those moves do not mark a broader foreign policy shift for Ankara.