Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu visits the Russian Federation for a meeting on Thursday with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov in order to discuss Russian military buildup in Syria and Turkish Stream project following his visit of Azerbaijan.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic indicated at a press conference on Tuesday that recent Syrian clashes and alleged Russian initiatives to establish a military base in the country will be the main topics of discussion during the planned meeting in the Russian Black Sea port city of Sochi on Sept. 17.
There have recently been reports on tightening of relations between Russia and the Assad regime which have recently been criticised by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey has consistently defended to oust the Assad regime and backed opposition groups while Russia has supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.
Russian forces are working to extend an airstrip near a military airport in Latakia province which is a stronghold of Syrian Regime leader Bashar al Assad, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
Latakia is a strategic Mediterranean port city of Syria.
The Observatory said, “Russian forces are building a long runway capable of accommodating large aircraft near the Hemeimeem military airport in Latakia province,” adding many Russian workers and military advisers had been brought to the region.
The Hemeimeem airport is both a military base and the second most important government-controlled airport after Damascus airport.
Turkish President called attention to the fact that “Some countries have still been sending aircrafts,” to the Syrian regime implicating particularly Russia though the main cause of the Syrian conflict is clearly the brutal conduct of the regime in the country at the expense of the people.
“Two million people have not come to Russia, but they have come to Turkey. We have spent about 6.5 billion dollars for [refugee crisis] until now,” Erdogan stated on Wednesday.
Although Turkey and Russia have substantially disagreed on Syrian politics, they have had a good relationship in terms of the energy sector until recently. That relationship also seems to be in danger following the Russian state-controlled natural gas company Gazprom’s latest announcement about pausing Turkish Stream pipeline project.
Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev announced on Monday that Turkish Stream pipeline project will not be implemented by the end of 2016 as it has previously been planned because of continuing disagreements between Turkey and Russia.
Sinirlioglu will also discuss issues surrounding the delay of the pipeline project with Lavrov.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak previously disclosed that Turkey and Russia will sign a formal agreement concerning Turkish Stream at the end of June after President Erdogan discussed the project privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 13 in Azerbaijan’s capital during Baku’s 2015 European Games.
Turkish Energy Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sefa Sadik Aytekin described the current state of the countries regarding the agreement last week as “mutual distrust.” He said, “Turkey has taken a serious risk,” by partnering with Russia for the Turkish Stream on contrary of the political realities.
However, “Russia has adequately not understood the risk Turkey has taken and lost a considerable time,” he added.
He also pointed out the fact that the name of the project has been put out by Russia. "It does not matter whether its name is ‘Turkish Stream’ or not, but “the results should be the Turkish Stream,” he emphasized.