Syria Seeking to Expand Ties with Turkey

July 30, 2003 - 0:0
Syrian Prime Minister Muhammed Mustafa Miro arrived in Ankara on Tuesday for a two-day state visit for talks on issues of mutual interest.

Miro, the first Syrian premier to visit to Turkey in 17 years, is heading a high-ranking delegation to Ankara and is set to discuss political ties and economic relations as well as several other regional and international issues in his talks with Turkish leaders.

He is also expected to sign a protocol on tourism cooperation between the two countries, as well as agreements on customs cooperation, elimination of double taxation, and healthcare cooperation.

Relations between Ankara and Damascus started to improve in 1998 when Syria and Turkey signed an accord to promote security and economic cooperation. Bilateral ties have expanded greatly in recent years after a period of serious tension over water and border issues.

Miro will chair the Syrian delegation at the sixth Syria-Turkey Joint Economic Commission. However, besides economic considerations, Damascus is seeking Ankara’s cooperation in regard to recent regional developments, particularly the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

There is no doubt that U.S. efforts to change the political map of the Middle East are currently the main concern of all regional countries. The United States is putting the most pressure on Syria because Damascus refuses to soften its hard line toward the Zionist regime.

It seems that Syria’s concern about the instability threatening its borders is the main factor behind Miro’s visit to Ankara. Bilateral cooperation is very likely to continue since Damascus and Ankara successfully cooperated during the U.S. campaign against Iraq.

On the other hand, it seems that Miro’s government intends to inform Ankara about the concerns of the Arab world regarding the U.S. plan to establish a free trade zone between Iraq, Turkey, and Israel to send Turkish troops to Iraq. Once implemented, the plan would help the Zionists enter regional markets. This has already made Arab countries apprehensive.

Analysts believe that the expansion of Damascus-Ankara ties shows Syria’s prudence about the threats against it. Therefore, promotion of Damascus-Ankara relations and increasing cooperation with a country that is itself concerned about regional developments are considered the main goals of Miro’s visit to Turkey.