Following his visit to Damascus earlier this week, on Tuesday Jordan’s Ayman Safadi became the first foreign minister to be officially hosted by Turkey’s new Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. The two sat down in Ankara to discuss the Syria file as well as a series of bilateral and regional issues.
Flanked by Fidan during a joint presser, Safadi said both countries were on the same page on the future of Syrians residing in their respective countries, airing support for Ankara’s call to set up an international fund to ensure the Syrians voluntary and safe return to their homeland. “The international community also has responsibilities in this regard, we will continue our efforts to establish an international fund,” Jordan’s top diplomat said.
Safadi’s visit comes at a time of ongoing high level negotiations between Ankara and Damascus in a bid to settle the situation following more than a decade of armed hostilities between the two capitals. Amman, which has become one of the first Arab states to reinstate diplomatic ties with Damascus and abandoned its support for the rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, mediated a series of meetings between regional capitals and Damascus in the lead up to Syria’s readmission to the Arab League earlier this year. Ensuring the return of some of the displaced Syrians remains high on the agenda for both Ankara and Amman. Turkey hosts more than 4 million Syrians who escaped the civil war, while Jordan is home to nearly 1.5 million of them.
Safadi also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after arriving in Ankara following his meeting with Assad in Damascus on Monday. Speaking at the joint presser on Tuesday, Safadi reiterated the messages he delivered in Damascus, pledging to continue Jordan’s support for efforts to find a political solution to humanitarian, security and political crises in Syria.
Fidan, for his part, said his country and Jordan would continue their coordination on the Syrian file. “We consider it necessary to establish stability in the region as soon as possible for the return of Syrians. We will continue our consultations on this issue,” he said.
Fidan: Will Sweden bring more trouble or power?
Both Fidan and Safadi also condemned a Quran burning protest that took place outside a mosque in Sweden last week. The protest, which was carried out during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, caused further strain to the ongoing talks between Turkey and the Nordic nation aimed at convincing Ankara to greenlight Sweden’s accession to NATO.
Fidan said his country found the Swedish security structure’s failure to prevent these provocations at the time of discussions over its membership in NATO to be concerning. “For strategy and security assessments, it has now become more debatable whether Sweden’s accession to NATO will bring more burden or more benefit,” Fidan said.
Turkey has been dragging its feet on ratifying Sweden’s pending accession to the transatlantic alliance, demanding that Stockholm crack down on individuals and groups that Ankara deems terrorists. “Naturally, our professional security assessment does not look very positive in a setting in which Sweden, knowingly or unknowingly, is hosting [terrorist organizations],” Fidan said.
Officials from Turkey, Sweden and NATO are set to gather in Brussels on Thursday in what will likely be the last meeting before the bloc’s annual summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on July 11-12. Fidan also brushed aside the NATO-led push to finalize Sweden’s membership before the summit, and said his country has never approved of pressure based on a deadline.