Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has given an interview to Interfax in the wake of negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in which he speaks about pressing international issues like Syria and Iran, as well as Turkish-Russian energy cooperation.
Question:At a press conference with Mr. Lavrov I noticed that you never mentioned that Turkey insists on Bashar Assad stepping down. Does this mean that Turkey still thinks that if Bashar Assad makes all the necessary reforms he can stay in power and he does not have to leave?
Answer:Syrian people will decide on this: who will be in power or who will not be in power, not us. But I think that who fights against his own people cannot have legitimacy. Therefore, the important thing is how Syrian people perceive the Syrian regime and President Bashar Assad. That is to decide for the people of Syria. The important thing is that Syrian people was not given the right to decide on this. Now the massacre must be stopped, the Syrian losses should be ending, and there should be no more attacks against civilians in the cities by the army, and full security and reforms should be together. That‘s our position. We ask Bashar Assad to listen to his own people.
Q.:If the Syrian crisis ends and Bashar Assad stays in power, will there be a possibility of improving relations…
A.:That is an ‘if-question‘. No president can stay if conflicting with his own people this scenario is impossible. Leaders and regimes an survive only if there is a support by the people of that country. Fighting against people and staying in power is not possible.
Q.:The Russian side has repeatedly insisted that the international community must do its best to stop violence either from the authorities of Syria and the armed opposition. Do you agree with this approach?
A.:Of course, the Syrian administration must stop using army against the people and should stop  casualties and at the same time we always advise the Syrian opposition to express themselves people peacefully and using peaceful methods to express their demands. But the problem here is that the Syrian regime does not allow to demonstrate peacefully. That‘s the problem.
Q.:Turkish authorities have same contacts with a part of the Syrian opposition, it gives its territory for the Syrian opposition to meet and discuss the problems. Does Ankara has any relations with armed opposition in Syria?
A.:Turkey is democratic country. Everybody can met in Turkey. Even Syrian opposition meets in Turkey, even those who are supporting the Syrian regime meet in Turkey. Turkey is a free country, but we never supported any armed group in any country. Turkey has been a place where refugees, those who are escaping from oppression, can come to Turkey, and they are coming. There are 9,500 Syrian refugees staying in Turkey. They are our guests because they are our relatives and there are our ancestors escaping from oppression.
Q.:What do you think about the new EU sanctions on the Syrian regime? Do you think it will help to solve the problem?
A.:Unfortunately, the Syrian administration did not listen to our advice: the advice of its neighbors, like Turkey, the advice of Arab countries of the region and the advice of the international community, including Russia and others, for functioning the reform process and providing security to the civilians. This is the problem. Therefore, that is the Syrian administration responsibility to fulfill this.
Q.:Recently the EU has imposed an oil embargo on Iran. Ankara has good relations with Tehran. Is there any possibility that Turkey can increase supplements of Iranian oil to help Iran to go thorough this negative period?
A.:We have very good relations with Iran, and we have been working very hard for the negotiations with Iran within P5+1. This policy, Turkish policy, will continue in order to find a solution, peaceful solution to this issue. And of course the UN Security Council resolutions are binding, but other unilateral sanctions are not binding, and Turkish-Iranian economic relations will continue within the framework the international law.
Q.:Turkey is a NATO member. NATO does not hide that the target of its European anti-missile shield…
A.:There is no special reference to any special country regarding the missile defense issue.
Q.:But various politicians say…
A.:I do not see any NATO statement officially made by any NATO official declaring the name of any country as a threat or a target regarding the missile defense system.
Q.:Does Turkey think that Iran poses any nuclear threat to Europe?
A.:No. Not to us, Turkey. We do not see such a threat. We do not see any threat from any of our neighbors.
Q.:And what about Europe?
A.:That is not an issue for us. For us we do not see any threat. And NATO makes no reference to any country: neither to Iran, nor Russia.
Q.:You spoke today about the Turkish-French relations. Turkey said it will take some time in order to answer the French legislators who decided to criminalize the denial of the Armenian genocide. What measures you were talking about?
A.:Now we are waiting for the constitutional process to be finalized. There is an attempt by some members of the Senate to go to the Constitutional Council, and we will wait for the results of this process. If these effort do not produce a positive result, than everybody will see our measures, but at this moment we are expecting the results of this process.
Q.:As far as I understood that that your negotiations with Mr. Lavrov were a part of preparations for the Russia-Turkey summit. Is there any specific date and place of the summit?
A.:This summit is Turkish-Russian High Level Cooperation Council meeting, which is being held annually. Every year one meeting is of joint strategic planning committee, what we did today. The other part is the summit. We plan the meeting in the coming months, of course it will be after the election in Russia. Then we expect the date from our Russian counterparts, the most appropriate date in the following months after the election.
Q.:And it will be organized in Turkey?
A.:Yes, in Turkey.
Q.:The Turkish energy minister said that Turkey is ready to talks about some partnership on South Stream as we know Turkey is not a partner in this project. Now Turkey is not a partner, it only give its territory. What this will look like?
A.:We think that it was giving permission to the construction of South Stream in the Turkish economic zone. This is a strategic decision in our bilateral cooperation. It show a strong political will on the Turkish side to cooperate with Russia on energy issues. I am sure there will be a huge potential on how to cooperate on all these issues, and our energy ministers will be talking this possible cooperation prospects.
Q.:Another energy question. Do you have any information about how the talks between Gazprom and private Turkish companies in order to replace the contract with Botas that expired last year.
A.:It is going well. It is the issue of mutual interest.
Q.:How did the last year bilateral agreement that increased the supplements of Russian gas to Turkey can influence the talks between Gazprom and private companies?
A.:This is an economic issues between the two campmates. So it absolutely another issue. The talks have continues. There is a potential between the two countries for official projects for future cooperation, so that is important. But the negotiations will continue between companies .
Q.:Let me return to Bashar Assad. Must the international community prosecute him, if he leaves his post?
A.: The Syrian people will decide on all of these issues. We cannot decide on their behalf. So an important thing for us as a neighbor of Syria is to complete this process in a peaceful manner based on aspirations of the Syrian people.