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Turkish Foreign Minister Statements Spark off Debate | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view of the entrance of the Ataturk international airport after two suicide bombers opened fire before blowing themselves up at the entrance, in Istanbul. Courtesy of 140journo/via Reuters

Istanbul-Statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the cooperation with Russia in the fight against ISIS has sparked off a debate. Çavuşoğlu statements were misunderstood to Turkey readiness to open up its İncirlik Air Base to Russia to strike ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The foreign minister was compelled to direct to the right track the statements he made during an interview to TRT channel on Sunday evening.

“We will cooperate with everybody who is fighting ISIS,” Cavusoglu said to TRT, pointing out that “Ankara has opened the Incirlik airbase to all those wishing to join the active fight.”

“Why not cooperate with Russia in the same manner? Turkey is ready for such cooperation. Terrorism is our common enemy. Joint efforts are important to avoid negative incidents,” the minister said.

Moscow reacted to Çavuşoğlu statements with the Kremlin denying any official negotiations to use İncirlik Air Base. Later, presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that he heard this suggestion from the media, describing the statement as an important one.

“Yet, no official messages were exchanged regarding this issue”, he added, referring the matter to the relevant Russian authorities to analyze the Turkish statements.
Kremlin statements preceded the denial and correction of Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of the Turkish cabinet session.

Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov met his Turkish counterpart and they affirmed common definition of terrorists in Syria and continuous willingness to cooperate in the fight against ISIS.

From his part, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that Turkey will continue to reform the foreign policy of the country in the coming period.
In a letter to the Turkish people on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr, he said, “The positive mutual steps during the past weeks give us hope”.