Turkey began its new year with two different topics.
The government affiliated Turkiye newspaper reported that a bilateral dialog had begun between the governments of Turkey and Syria. And newly introduced increases in commodity prices over New Year caused heavy debate among the public.
Turkish and Syrian officials’ bilateral meeting in Jordan
Relations between Ankara and Damascus were torn apart in 2011, when the Syrian civil war broke out.
A new report now claims that a bilateral dialog between the two sides has begun.
The government affiliated Turkiye newspaper has published a report citing Turkish state sources, that normalization talks had begun between Turkish and Syrian officials in Jordan.
According to the report, extensive talks were held in Jordan between Turkish and Syrian officials with the participation of some countries as mediators.
The talks focused on joint operations against the PKK/YPG/PYD terrorist organization active in northern Syria, while the neutralization of the terrorist elements in Idlib was also discussed.
According to the newspaper report, government security sources on the Syrian side have expressed a positive view concerning a joint operation against the PKK. However, the Syrian side has also put up a condition that the operation in the east of the Euphrates River should be continued later on in the Idlib region too. The Syrian government has also agreed that Turkey’s concerns over terrorism and its rights to conduct operations were determined under the Adana Memorandum.
The priority at the dialogs were given to the issue of Aleppo. Sources told the Turkiye newspaper:
“Aleppo has a vital importance for Ankara. After all the negotiations with Russia, Iran and the Syrian government, we agreed on a plan to reconstruct all the infrastructure and city buildings in Aleppo. These have almost all have been ravaged during the war. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will support the reconstruction efforts. It is also planned that the Aleppo Industrial Site, which had been the largest industrial center in the Middle East, shall become operational again.
Turkey demands in terms of security that Iranian militia groups, along with the Assad’s Shabiha militants and PKK terrorist groups leave the area. Proposed is the deployment of an independent, international peacekeeping force that will also include Turkey, to Aleppo. We have received information from official sources that the Russian approach to the plan is positive, whereas the Iranian position is rather hesitant and tougher.”
Additionally, the opinion was expressed in the meetings that the US presence in the region “can be ended with the uprisings of the tribes in Deir ez-Zor, ar-Raqqa and al-Hasakah.”
The meeting, where the demands from all sides were discussed, also included the re-opening of the M4 and M5 highways. The Syrian government demands the re-opening of the Latakia-Kesep border and the revival of the bilateral trade and civilian crossings. The Russian side demanded the reopening of the Qamishli-Nusaybin border alongside Kesep border. Damascus government released 6,000 Syrian opposition members as a first step of goodwill.
Meanwhile, Mehmet Yalcinkaya, mayor of Akcakale (a district on the Turkish-Syrian border) from the government AK Party, stated in a television broadcast that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in control of the 80 percent of the country. The mayor proposed that Turkey should negotiate with Assad for its own benefit.
Nationwide increases in price commodities in the new year
On the public agenda of Turkey, which has been grappling with an economic crisis in parallel with the rise of the currency in recent months, are the recent increases in price commodities entered into force on New Year’s Eve.
According to the new prices announced on New Year’s Eve, there was the following increase;
– 50% to 127 % on electricity,
– 25% for natural gas for households, 50% for natural gas for commercial use,
– 1.29 lira increase for diesel, 0.61 lira for gasoline, 0.78 lira for autogas,
– Bridge and highways tolls were increased by an average of 25%.
– Prices of grains were also increased. Turkish Grain Board raised the price of the wheat it sold to regulate the market, by 23 percent and barley by 24 percent.
– In addition, the price increases in public transport and taxi fares were also announced.
There was no official statement from the government regarding the price increases, while main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, “Erdogan, you cannot even let the people smile for a second. You brought in these massive price increases tonight on electricity and gas. When people were ending the year, you were secretly planning on strangling them. There will be no peace in your presidential palace and the state institutions you had corrupted, unless there is finally peace for this nation. Let this be my 2022 promise!”
The oppositional Vatan Party said in a statement “While banks make a profit of 80 billion lira each year, and while 300 Billion Dollars lie abroad in offshore banks, the heavy bill for the crisis cannot be put on the backs of the people and the producers with the price increases in the new year!”