Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of trying to legitimise the “Turkish occupation” and supporting “terrorism” in Syria in an interview with Sky News Arabia on Wednesday.
Al-Assad criticised Erdoğan’s call for a meeting without preconditions, saying it lacked substance. “A meeting without preconditions means there’s no agenda, without an agenda there’s no preparation, and without preparation there’s no results,” al-Assad said. “Why should Erdoğan and I meet? Just to share refreshments? Our intention is to achieve a clear and specific goal.”
The Syrian President went on to say that the proposed meeting could not take place on Erdoğan’s terms, explaining the contrasting aspirations of the two countries. “Our goal is to regain Syrian territory, while Erdoğan is trying to legitimise the presence of the Turkish occupation within our borders,” al-Assad stressed.
In response to Erdoğan’s claim that Turkey’s incursions into Syria are based on the threat of terrorism, specifically referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), al-Assad vehemently denied this notion.
“The truth remains that terrorism in Syria is made in Turkey,” al-Assad said. “Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham may have different names, but at the end of the day they have the same source – Turkey,” he asserted, further arguing that these groups have received financial support from Turkey until now.
Regarding the armed opposition groups allied with Turkey, al-Assad stated that a genuine opposition does not emerge organically from within the country’s borders, but is manufactured from outside. He emphasised that an opposition rooted within the country would by its very nature attract grassroots support, develop a national agenda and foster national consciousness.
Al-Assad indicated that formal relations with Arab countries would continue, referring to recent developments in relations with them. However, he expressed scepticism about the transformation of the Arab League into a fully functioning institution, emphasising its incomplete development.