The Cypriot foreign minister says it remains to be seen how the agreement to halt military operations in Syria will play out, adding that any agreement was a positive development in keeping the peace.
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides, who was attending the Limassol Economic Forum on Friday, responded to questions about a recent agreement whereby Ankara would halt its military offensive in northeast Syria for five days.
“Any agreement or understanding that leads to the termination of illegal acts, such as the invasion of Turkey into Syria for example or even in general, paves the way for resolving crises through political means, and this is something we welcome as we consider it to be a particularly positive development,” Christodoulides said.
On Thursday evening, Turkey and the US worked out a cease fire for 120 hours, in order to allow YPG to withdraw its fighters and weapons from what Turkey hopes to use as a safe zone, south of its border.
'Keeping in mind that Cypriot shorelines are only 56 miles away from the Syrian coast, it is our hope and expectation that there will be peace and stability in the country'
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara had agreed to “pause” military operations but stopped short of calling it a ceasefire, citing a lack of direct agreement between Turkish forces and the Kurdish fighters.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who travelled to Ankara to meet with Erdogan on Thursday, said the “Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours.”
But reports on Friday suggested that at least some fighting was still going in the area, as gun fire and shelling could be heard from the Turkish town of Ceylanpinar across the border from Ras al Ain. Smoke rose from one part of the Syrian town but details remained unclear, with some reports saying it was unclear whether the sounds heard were gun fire or other activities as YPG fighters were withdrawing.
“Keeping in mind that Cypriot shorelines are only 56 miles away from the Syrian coast, it is our hope and expectation that there will be peace and stability in the country and that a political process would begin to resolve the conflict,” Christodoulides said.
The Cypriot FM also pointed out that time was needed to see how others will view the developments, referring to other governments including Syria and Russia.
A Kremlin official told foreign media that Moscow would be seeking information from Ankara regarding the agreement reached between Pence and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet Erdogan the following week in southern Russia, where the two men would discuss Syria.