Rakiya Albaloot | September 9, 2017Turkish president Erdoğan and his Iranian counterpart arrived on Saturday to the Kazakh capital to attend Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit scheduled to kick off on Sunday. According to official statements, the leaders will be discussing bilateral ties between their countries, terrorism and other pressing regional and international issues.
During the sidelines’ ministerial meetings Kazakh and Iranian presidents are expected to discuss bilateral relations, as well as pressing regional and international issues, according to the Iranian president’s deputy communications director, Parviz Ismaili.
The meetings are also significant as both Iran and Turkey seek to strengthen ties with Russia and Kazakhstan in diverse fields, including military and security, and trade. There are growing expectations that both countries will soon seek to join the Schanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as the Eurasian Economic Union (EUAE), as the Turkish relations with the West are rapidly deteriorating.
In a joint press conference held with the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, upon his arrival to Astana, Erdoğan said that their respective countries are fighting terrorism together.
Erdoğan also said, “We will hopefully eliminate this gang that threatens the national security of both countries by joining hands. We will improve our cooperation in fighting terror organizations such as Daesh, FETO, and al-Qaeda”, as reported by Turkish media.
Nazarbayev, on his part stressed that Turkey was one of the closest and trustworthy political and economic partners of Kazakhstan and that high level meetings should be done more frequently.
Kazakh president also added that both countries contributed to finding a solution to the Syrian crisis by holding talks in Astana, saying that “Turkey contributes to the talks as a guarantor. Violence in Syria had decreased as a result of the talks”.
On May 4, during Astana peace talks the three guarantor countries, Russia, Iran and Turkey, have reached a breakthrough on Syrian crisis by signing a tripartite agreement on the establishment of de-escalation zones.
Both Iran and Turkey along with Russia are key negotiators in the Astana peace talks on Syria, the next round of which is slated for September 14. Both Syrian armed opposition and the UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura will be attending the upcoming meeting.
During his meeting with the Kazakh counterpart, discussing Syrian settlement, Turkish president said that the outcome of the Astana talks will determine the success of Geneva process – a parallel, Western-led effort seeking a solution to the Syrian crisis.
At a press briefing on September 8, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, stated that “During the conference, the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire – Russia, Iran and Turkey – as well as the observers – the United Nations, Jordan and the United States – plan to discuss the setup and operation of the de-escalation zones in Syria”.
Three de-escalation zones have already been established, while the forth, in the Idlib province is in the works, where Turkey is expected to deliver results during the September 14-15 sixth Astana meeting.
Rakiya Albaloot is assistant editor at Geostrategic Media.