French president says pressure must be exerted on Moscow to negotiate on Syria.
French President Francois Hollande on Friday said Ankara’s escalating involvement in the Syrian conflict was creating a risk of war between Turkey and Russia.
“Turkey is involved in Syria… There, there is a risk of war,” Hollande told France Inter radio. “That is why the [U.N.] Security Council is meeting,” he added.
Hollande also said “Russia will be unable to cope if it unilaterally supports [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad” and called for “pressure” to be exerted on Moscow to negotiate on Syria.
“I do not want to exclude Russia from the solution. I went myself to Moscow to tell Vladimir Putin, ‘All of us have to work together to make this political transition’… but I cannot accept that at the same time that people are negotiating, they are bombing civilian populations,” he said.
Asked about the U.S. position, he said “the Americans consider that they no longer have to be everywhere in the world as they were before…. Therefore the United States is pulling back. Of course I would prefer that the Americans were again more active.”
The Security Council is holding an emergency meeting at Moscow’s request, to address Turkey’s proposal for ground forces to be deployed in Syria, the Russian foreign ministry said in Moscow. Turkey has called for a joint ground operation in Syria with its international allies, insisting it is the only way to stop the country’s five-year war.
Saudi Arabia, which along with Turkey is backing rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, has also said it would be ready to take part in an international force to be deployed in Syria.
Russia, which has been carrying out airstrikes in support of Assad’s forces since the end of September, has called on the Security Council to press Turkey to halt its shelling of Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Ties between Turkey and Russia have broken down since Ankara downed one of Moscow’s fighter jets along its border with Syria in November. France has been one of the most hostile opponents of Assad, and following the jihadist attacks in Paris in November it has stepped up airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
Hollande told France Inter the strikes were effective and results could now be seen.